One year at our annual Charis Bible College Expand Your Vision Weekend, as I was worshiping the Lord, I just knew in my heart that the Lord had entered the room. I didn’t feel it, I just knew it. I knew He had walked into the auditorium through the left front doors and right up in front of the stage. He stood there next to me for a moment, then He turned and started down the middle aisle and toward the back of the room.
I know the Lord promised He would always be with us and, in fact, lives within us. But there was a tangible manifestation of His presence. Very simply put, I believe what we call the anointing is just a manifestation of what is already true in the spirit realm. The Lord is always with us, but His presence isn’t always tangibly manifest. This time it was.
The presence of the Lord was so real, I opened my eyes to look and see if I could see Him. Within moments, people began to drop to their knees and worship the Lord in the same sequence that I had sensed Him walking through the room. People were rejoicing and sobbing out loud. It was a powerful time of being in the manifest presence of the Lord.
But here is the thing that was so special to me: I didn’t physically see or feel anything extraordinary. I didn’t need to. I knew it by faith. By the Spirit, I knew what was happening before I opened my eyes and saw any confirmation of the Lord moving through the meeting and touching people. I was just as satisfied to know these things by the Spirit as if I had been physically overwhelmed and pinned to the floor under the power of the Holy Spirit.
As the meeting continued, there were many people touched by the manifest presence of the Lord. It was one of those times that people want to build three tabernacles and just camp there (Matt. 17:4). Although I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, I’ve come to the place where faith when God’s presence is not manifest is just as real as the special times when feeling confirms what faith believes.
That night I ministered from Luke 24 where the two disciples of Jesus were walking to Emmaus. As they walked along the road, the resurrected Jesus joined them, but they didn’t recognize Him.
The scripture says,
“And it came to pass, that, while they communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.” (Luke 24:15-16)
These were Jesus’ disciples, and yet they didn’t know Him. How could that be? How could you not recognize a person you had lived with for over three years? Mark’s account of this same instance gives us the answer. Mark condenses this whole encounter into one verse and says,
“After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country”. (Mark 16:12)
The reason Jesus’ disciples didn’t recognize Him was because He was in another form. This doesn’t mean He looked like another person and had different physical features. That same day, just minutes after this encounter with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus appeared to His disciples in Jerusalem and showed them the print of the nails in His hands and feet (Luke 24:39). This was the same Jesus they had intimately known before. He bore the marks of crucifixion in His resurrected body. But they didn’t know Him because He was no longer in a physical body. He was in a spiritual, glorified body. They were looking with physical eyes that could only see physical things, and Jesus was in a spiritual body that could only be fully recognized with spiritual eyesight.
Here is an amazing truth: Spiritual things can only be perceived by our spirits. Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:6,
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”.
What Jesus was saying was, flesh is flesh and spirit is spirit. You cannot perceive the spirit through the senses of the flesh. They are totally different worlds, or realms, of reality.
The Apostle Paul made this same point in 1 Corinthians 2:14 where he said,
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”.
The physical senses can’t discern spiritual things. This isn’t speaking only of understanding spiritual truths with our minds; this also applies to seeing spiritual realities with our eyes or feeling spiritual things with our emotions. Of course there are exceptions where God opened physical eyes to enable people to see angels and even heaven, but normally the only way to access the spirit realm is through our spirits by faith.
Although special times of the manifest presence of the Lord do occur when we can feel in the natural what is always true in the spiritual, this is the exception rather than the rule. We are not to be more excited when we feel something than when we are just walking by faith in the promises of God. That’s a radical statement!
The Lord began to teach me this very early in my walk with Him. On March 23, 1968, the Lord manifested Himself to me in a tangible way. For four months, I was physically aware of the Lord’s love and presence with me in a way that took virtually no faith. I could feel it. It was awesome. But then that physical sensation left. Shortly thereafter, I was drafted and found myself in Vietnam. The absence of Christian fellowship and everything I was used to made my desperation for the Lord’s love and presence even more acute. I could truthfully say that I was desperate for God in the worst sense of the word.Continue Reading