Q&A: Can His Presence be Lost?

Can His Presence be Lost?

Question

Is it possible for God to take away all sense of His presence for a true Christian?

Answer

For the true Christian, it is essential to stress in answering this question that God is ALWAYS present (Ps. 46:1; Acts 17:26-27).

He is near enough to see us:

The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. (Prov. 15:3).

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Heb. 4:13).

He is near enough to hear us:

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. (1 Pet. 3:12).

Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. (Ps. 116:2).

He is near enough to be sympathetic to all our needs:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:15-16).

He is near enough to walk with us "through the valley of the shadow of death:"

When Stephen was put to death the Lord was near enough for Stephen to see Him and to speak to Him and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:56-60).

The Lord is nearer to us than any person on earth. If we belong to him, he has promised:

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you (Heb. 13:5).

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, 'Destroy him!' (Deut. 33:27).

I could go further, but I believe the point is clear that for the true Christian God is ALWAYS NEAR in a variety of ways. However, it is possible for the true Christian to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and so quench (1 Thess. 5:19) his immediate presence and lose the joy of his presence (Ps. 51:12).

Some individuals mistakenly use Psalm 51:11 ("Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me") to insist that God may remove the Holy Spirit from a true Christian altogether. David spoke here of the anointing and gifting of the Holy Spirit that he had received as king of Israel, not of the Spirit's indwelling presence. He asked God not to take his kingdom away from him as he had taken it away from Saul and not to remove the special gifting David had received and that enabled him to lead effectively (Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible).

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).