God is omnipresent. Omnipresent means everywhere present. God is everywhere present at all times. God fills His whole universe. The Psalmist understood there is nowhere we can run or hide that is outside God’s presence and wrote, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee (hide) from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) In Romans 1 Paul talks about God being plainly known since the beginning of creation, His power and divine nature can be clearly seen (1:19-20).
God’s omnipotence is understood and accepted. What is less understood is God’s manifest presence. Manifest simply means to make known or to be clearly seen and understood or to reveal. God’s manifest presence is God making Himself undeniably known and real to us in very present and personal ways. He wants us to know Him as close, intimate Friend (John 15:15).
God’s manifest presence can be understood as His strong-felt, seen, or heard presence. It is a supernatural encounter with God. It can happen when a person is alone or when gathered with others, like in a church meeting. It can happen when you are driving or going for a walk or sitting in a coffee shop.
God has been in the habit of invading the natural realm with His supernatural manifest presence since the beginning. We can read how God and Adam would walk and talk together, constantly. Genesis 3:8 speaks of Adam hearing the “sound” of the Lord walking in the “cool of the garden” and this occurred after The Fall. We can wrongly assume that God spoke with Adam only before the Fall but Genesis 3 is after The Fall. God had to be manifestly present in some form to be talking with Adam. Then in Genesis 4 God encounters Cain and again in Genesis 6 we find God speaking with Noah. Man’s fallen state did not limit God. God showing up in manifest ways and making Himself known to us is one of the Bible’s main themes. It is also commonly seen through church history, and especially during times of revival.
When the Holy Spirit has invaded the natural realm in such a way as to make Himself known there are many commonly reported phenomena: the atmosphere can change, the air can feel thicker or heavier, a refreshing breeze might be felt, or people feel a cooling or a warming in an otherwise air conditioned room. Some may smell a sweet perfume. There may be an overwhelming sense of joy or peace or love that washes over people. Healings occur, both physical and emotional. The air might feel electrified or alive. People my see or hear or feel a rushing wind or rain. Some might see glory as in a rainbow or cloud like appearance, or a bright radiant gold filling up the room. Others might see Jesus or angels or have other similar visions. There might be laughter or tears or spontaneous worship where it seems the Holy Spirit Himself is leading worship. Prophetic words, praying and singing in tongues is normal. People may fall on their faces or be “slain in the Spirit” (like resting in the Lord). Hearing God’s voice either audibly or internally, or similar to hearing His voice, a deep knowing (unction) —that of being convinced God has imparted a truth or given clear instructions about on matter. These are all things I have seen or heard or felt and have many friends who have had similar experiences.
God’s manifest presence leaves some people completely changed, hungry for more, and ready to chase God down and do His will the whole of their lives, no matter the cost. The fruit of experiencing God is clearly seen in the transformed life. Healing, spiritual-maturing, commissioning, righting of identity occur as people are drawn into deeper intimacy with the Lord —and this is the very purpose of God’s manifest presence, God making Himself known and drawing us into ever-deepening intimacy with Him.
Some New Testament examples of God’s manifest presence: The incarnation of Jesus in Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Holy Spirit being poured out in Acts 2. The disciples prayed in Acts 4 and “the place where they were meeting was shaken… they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (4:31). Stephen looked up to heaven and “saw the glory of God (and) Jesus standing at the the right hand of God” (Act 7:55). The zealous religious leader Saul is divinely interrupted by Jesus (Act 9), repents, and later becomes known as Paul. Peter is in a trance and has a vision leading to the evangelization of Cornelius and his family and to the wider acceptance of Gentiles (Acts 10). The Corinthian church was so used to the manifest presence and great experience in Holy Spirit, Paul gave instructions for orderly worship services (1Cor 11, 12, 13, 14). Paul writes to the Galatians about freedom and living in step with the Spirt, we cannot do this without knowing His manifest presence and marks of His manifest presence are the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5). Ephesians 1:17-18 speaks directly to knowing ἐπίγνωσις (epignosis) God by first-hand experience with God’s manifest presence of seeing and hearing with our spiritual senses. The whole book of Revelation is John seeing visions and prophetically recording everything he saw before writing, “Come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).
And this is our prayer too, Come Lord Jesus in ever-increasing ways.