The presence of God is simply a manifestation, or a result, of the Holy Spirit being present. A simple way to think of it is wherever the Holy Spirit is present, this would be called the presence of God.
The reason we know this to be true is because the Holy Spirit is the One who is on the earth today. God the Father is not on the earth right now and neither is Jesus. The Bible reveals that they are both in Heaven as we speak.
“I (Jesus) will go away to Him (the Father) who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:5-7)
We see from the passage above that Jesus is telling His disciples that He will be leaving soon to go back to the Father, but when He does He will be sending the Holy Spirit to be with us in His stead. (Related article: 5 Things the Presence of God Does in Our Lives and 9 Ways the Holy Spirit Influences/Works in a Person’s Life)
“And while they (the disciples) looked steadfastly toward heaven as He (Jesus) went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11).
Again, this is another instance where the Bible reveals that after Jesus rose from the grave He ascended to be with the Father in Heaven, at least until His second coming at the end of the age.
The answer is because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus.
Notice how the following verse uses both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ interchangeably.
“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).
Jesus Christ is present in our midst through the agency of the Holy Spirit, which His Spirit. Wherever the Spirit of God is Jesus Christ is there as well. This is true because the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of God and He is also called the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7) or the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).
In short, since we know that the Father is in Heaven (Matthew 6:9) and that the Son is at the Father’s right hand (Mark 16:19), and we know that the Spirit of God is the One who is on the Earth today (John 16:5-7), we can conclude that the Holy Spirit is the presence of God on the earth.
What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and God’s presence?
There is no difference between the Holy Spirit and God’s presence. The Holy Spirit being present is the presence of God on the earth today.
The only difference is in the type of presence the Holy Spirit chooses to give. What I mean by that statement is that there is God’s presence that manifests tangibly, where you can feel it, and then there is God’s omnipresence, where He is everywhere all at once just because He is God.
If the Holy Spirit were to leave the earth today we would no longer experience God’s presence or voice, and the reason is that the Spirit of God is the One on the earth today, as mentioned earlier in this article.
We should always remember that the Holy Spirit is the presence of God, and the presence of God is nothing more than a result of the Holy Spirit being present. If we forget this we will reduce the presence of God to a feeling or just an experience, rather than a radical encounter with a Person who desires that we have a relationship with Him. [Related article: How to Stay/Abide/Dwell in the Presence of God (4 Steps)].
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