The study of God has been the ambition of philosophers, etc for millenniums. Some sit and meditate and try to think into the realm of the eternal Being.
God is far too great for us to fully understand. He has no beginning and He has no end. There is no place where His presence is not felt. The Bible asks in Job 11:7, “Can thou by searching find out God? God lives in Heaven and He rules over the whole earth (Isa 66:1).
There is nothing more important than knowing God. Jeremiah 9:23- says “Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercises loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord”. John 17:3 also says “Now this eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
It is God’s delight that we know Him, but we live in an age in which the knowledge of God is rare. There is the loss of the majesty of God. Many speak glibly about their belief in some god or other. Most would not ever claim to know the true God, the God of the Bible. We know of so many people, of whom the Psalmist’s words are true. “In his pride, the wicked does not seek him in all his thoughts there is no room for God (Ps 10:4, Rom 3:11).
The poor concept of God brings a lot of problems to us. A large percentage of people today would say that they believe in God, but they rarely give Him a thought, and they routinely make their decisions as if He didn’t exist. So the fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Ps 14:1), whatever else he may say with his lips. Up till today, a lot of people have conflicting views about God. In the pantheism view of God, the pantheists believe that everything is God. There is no God, they say outside nature Sun, Moon, Stone, etc could be their God. To them, nature is God – Romans, Egyptians fit in here. (The world is God and God is the world-Greeks)
There is the agnostics (agnosticism) who cannot know God. They say there is no way a man can know God.
Another group – the atheists say there is no God. They ultimately set themselves as God.
The Polytheists (polytheism) believe in many gods. For example the Japanese, Indian, etc.
The Dualists (Dualism) make two equal gods-one good and one bad. When we fear the devil, we make him equal with God.
The Christians say that unless God takes the initiative and looks for us and reveals Himself to us, there is nothing we can do. Eph 4:17-18, Mt 11:27, 1 Cor 1:19-21. Christians are not looking for God. He looks for us and like a lamb carries us home. They believe God has revealed Himself through the scripture and Christ.
In this study, we are going to be looking at special truths about God.
Who is God?
The scriptural description of God is that He is Lord. The centrality of the Lordship of God is captured when He (God) met Moses in the burning bush and announced that He would deliver His people from slavery in Egypt, Moses asked his name. Then God replied, “I am who I am”. This is what you are to say to the Israelites. “I am has sent me to you” – Ex 3:14.
In Monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the Supreme Being, Creator Deity, and Principal Object of Faith.
In Biblical view, He is Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit.
Nature of God:
1. God is a Spirit:
God hasn’t got a body, eyes, legs, yet He sees and touches, reaches everything everywhere though He is spirit, He is not abstract. He is real, but we cannot see Him. He says nobody can see Him and live (Ex. 33:20)
Question: How do you reconcile John 4:24 and Ex 33:23
2. God is Light:
1 Jn 1:5, II Cor 4:1-6
The phrase God is Light” appears in Jn 1:5, where the apostle John is explaining that the message we have from Jesus Christ is that God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all. Light is the nature and character of God. He is not a light or a kind of light. He is light itself, all lights come from Him. At the beginning of time, he created the light to dispel the darkness and chaos that was over all the earth – Gen. 1:1-5.
3. God is Holy:
God has no sin in Him (1Pe 2:16). There is no one holy like Him – (1Sam 2:2)
4. God is a consuming fire:
This is Because of the light that radiates from Him, any sinful life will be swallowed up. Heb 12:29, Gen 15:17, Ex 1:3-6, IKing 18:24-28, Rev 21:5
5. God is love:
1jn 4:7-8, 16 & 17
God’s love involves His mercy, benevolence, grace, goodness towards His scriptures.
6. God is Honest:
What He says, we can trust. What He promises, can be counted on. He tells the truth. When He
promises us forgiveness, eternal life, a relationship with himself, we can believe.
7. God is forgiving:
We sin. We tend to do things our way instead of God’s way. And God sees it and knows it. God does not merely overlook such sin but is prepared to judge and condemn people for their sin. However, God is forgiving and will forgive us from the moment we begin a relationship with Him. Jesus the son of God, paid for our sin with His death on the cross. He rose from the dead and offers us this forgiveness.
8. He is Capable:
God is 100% right about everything. He understands all the elements of a situation. His wisdom is unlimited. We do not have to update Him, counsel Him, or persuade Him to do the right thing. He will because He is capable and His motives are pure.
9. God is creative:
Everything we make is put together with existing materials or built on previous thought. God has the capacity of speaking things into existence, not just galaxies and life forms, but solutions to today’s problems. God is creative, for us. His power is something He wants us to be aware of and to rely on.
Question-: Do you know God Personally?
ATTRIBUTES OF GOD:
1. God is incomprehensible:
There is nothing in the physical realm to compare God (Ezekiel 1 vs 4, 13). Man is made in His image but not completely because if complete, it means there is more than one God (Rev 1 vs 13, 4 vs 3, 6, 7). We can only believe in Him by faith. He has perfected that in Jesus.
2. God is Divine Unity:
There is but one God, simple and one with Himself. He has harmony. There is an access pass in Him. He does not suspend one aspect of Himself and act on one. All that He does is all that He does. He is completely one.
3. Self-Existence of God:
I am that I am Ex. 3 vs 14, Is. 14v4. This means God has no origin. Nothing in creation came to be without God. He has always been there and will be there when the universe will roll, away. He did not come to be. Nothing contributed to the existence of God. Josh 3 vs 10, Ps Jn 5 vs 11-13, Ex 3 vs 14 – 15, Ex. 6 vs 3, Ps 36 vs 9,
Jn 1 vs 4, IThes. 19, Is. 41 vs 4 – I am that I am – having no beginning and no end Ex. 6 vs 3, 3 vs 14 & 15.
4. Self Sufficiency of God:
He is self-sufficient – Jn5 vs 26. He is in Himself. Nothing from outside. All life is in Him and from Him. He can never receive anything that He has not first given so when we say we are giving God time, He has given it first. If we say we are giving tithes and offering, He has given to us 1st. We can never out-give Him, so we must not be stingy with Him. He is not lacking anything. We cannot elevate Him because nothing above Him that we can now move Him up to that. To believe in Him does not add anything to God, so it is for our good that we believe Him and give. We cannot help God so we do not think of how a promise of God will come to pass like in the case of Abram & Sarah.
The unbeliever is denying the Self-sufficiency of God. He is taking God’s attributes to himself by carrying out everything in his life as if he is the maker of his life. This dual sin dishonors God and ultimately brings destruction to men. To Christians, this great God has condescended to work through us and with us and to be used by Him. His love has made Him come.
5. God is Eternal:
Phil 2 vs 13, God lives in an everlasting now.
Everything about God is now. He does not have a past and future. He dwells in eternity but time dwells in God. Time does
not pass in God. This is why our requests come to us when we are due to receive them. Time has begun and so has an end. This is why everything too bad in our lives must come to an end because it started someday
6. God’s infinitude:
This is the most difficult attribute to mind. It means limitlessness. He has no limit. Man has limited
height, size but God is infinite. Nothing binds him. He is without growth to His limitless, but we grow. Because of His
the attribute of infinite, everything about Him is infinite. His love is also infinite. In his infinite love, He can embrace the whole
7. Immutability of God:
This means changelessness. He never differs from Himself. He- does not change for better or worse. He cannot be divided because He has no part. In Him no change is possible, but in man, change is possible today man is happy, tomorrow he is sad. In Him, there is permanence, and men of faith find permanence in Him.
Nu 23 vs 19, 11 Cor 3 vs 18, Mai 3 vs 6
8. Divine Omniscience:
He knows all things. He knows Himself and all there is to know. He has the blueprint of our lives. He knows all thing instantly. But man does not accept the Holy Spirit.
(Refs:- ICor 2 vs 11, Ps 139 vs 10, Prov. 15 3 & 1, Jer 23 vs 23-35, Ps 147 vs 5, Is. 29 15 – 16, Rev. 13 vs 8, Act 15 vs 18, Heb 4 14 – 18, Jn 3 vs 20, Is 44 vs 26, Is 45 vs 7, Gen 18 – 19).
9. The Wisdom of God:
(Dan 2 vs 2), Wisdom and might are His Rev 9 vs 12. Blessings & glory & wisdom. Tim 1 vs 17. He is the only one who is wise. Ps 104 vs 24. Eccl. 3 vs 14 – He doeth all things well Is 22, Is 45 vs, Pro. 8 – the wisdom of God.
10. The omnipotence of God:
In Rev, this is revealed. To reign, God must have power but to reign sovereignly, He must
have all power. He has never at any given time surrenders the iota of His power. He gives power for people to use in the exercise of that power, it still belongs to God. All that He gives returns to Him again.
Refs: Gen 17 vs 1, Rev 15 vs 3, 17 vs 17, Jn 1 vs 1-3, Rev 4 vs 11, Jer. 22 vs 17 & 27, Job 42 vs 2, Heb 1 vs 1-4, Mt. 19 vs 2,6, Ps 23 vs 9, Ps 33 vs 9, Gen 18 vs 14, Dan 4 vs 35, Mt 20 vs 15.
11. The Divine Transcendence:
It means that God is above everything being created. It is impossible to come near Him. Refs: Pro 14 vs 11, Is 6 vs 1-5, Dan 10 vs 6-9, Jn 1, Heb 1
12. Divine Omnipresence:
In His infinitude & eternity. He surrounds His finite creation and contains it. Refs: Heb 1 vs 2 -3. His word made all thing. He is everywhere at the same time.
Rom 10 vs 6-8, Gen 28 vs 15 – 16, Ps 139 vs 7-12, Jer 23 vs 23-24, Is 66 vs 1, Ep 1 vs 23, Is 43 vs 2, lKg 8 vs 27, 2Chr. 2 vs 6, Amos 9 vs 2-4, Ex 3 vs 12, 33 vs 14.
MORAL ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
1. Perfect Holiness:
Refs: Lev 19 vs 2, 11 vs 44 & 45, IPe 1 vs 16, Ex 39 vs 30, 15 vs 11, Is 57 vs 15, Hab 1 vs 13, Is 6 vs 1-5, Rev 4 vs 8, Job 6 vs 10, Rev 15 vs 3-4, Ps 29 vs 2, Ex 3 vs 1-5, 33, Is 59 vs 1
2. Perfect Righteousness:
He is just. Righteousness is holiness in action against sin. God has judged sin in Christ.
Rom 2 vs 8 – 9, 2Thes 1 vs 8, Deut 32 vs 4, Gen 18 vs 25, Is 11 vs
4-5, Dan 9 vs 7 & 14, Rev 16 vs 5-8, 2Chr 12 vs 6, Neh. 9 vs
3, Ps 89 vs 14, Dn 17 vs 25, Ep 4 vs 24
3. Perfect Love:
Love is the heart of the nature of God. He is love. Love is a trinity. There must be the lover and the loved ones.
Jn 3 vs 16, Mt. 3 vs 16, Jn 14 vs 21, Gal 5 vs 21, Jn 17 vs 24, Rom 5 vs 5, 2Cor 13 vs 11, Un 4 vs 8 & 10, 16 & 19, Deut. 7 vs 6-8 & 13, Jn 14 vs 23, 13, 11 vs 7, Jn 13 vs 34 – 35.
4. The Goodness of God:
He is absolutely good. Everything in the universe is kept by Him. Everything is being taken care of by God.
Ps 125 vs 9, Job 35 vs 41, Mt. 6 vs 26, Mt. 5 vs 45, Ps 36 vs 5, 104 vs 21, Rom 2 vs 4, Nahum 1 vs 7, Acts 14 vs 17.
5. The Grace of God:
Everything God does and gives is because of grace. Grace is an unmerited gift and love of God. Grace includes God’s long-suffering.
Refs: Eph 1 vs 2,6&7, 2 vs 5-8, 3 vs 2, 2Thes. 3 vs 17 vs 18, 2Tim, Titus 2 vs 11, 1 vs 4, Rom 2 vs 4, Ex 24 vs 6, Rom 5 vs 20, 9 vs 22
6. The Mercy of God:
This Is the pity of God upon the miserable condition of the sinner because of sin. The compassionate heart of God to the sinner.
Refs:- 2Pe 3 vs 9, Ps 85 vs 10, Is 55 vs 7, Lk 1 vs 50 & 72, Ex 20 vs 6, Titus 1 vs 4, 1Tim 1 vs 2, 2Tim 1 vs 2, Mt 5 vs 35, Mt 9 vs 36, 14 vs 14, 15 vs 32, Lk 15 vs 20, Ps 78 vs 38, 86 vs 15, 145 vs 8, 130 vs 7, 103 vs 8-9
7. The Kindness of God:
Is God’s gentle benevolence.
Eph 2 vs 4-7, Col 3 vs 12, Tit 3 vs 4-7, Ps 31 vs 21, Is 54 vs 8, Joel 2 vs 13, Ex 34 vs 6-7
8. Perfect Faithfulness:
Is 25 vs 1, Deut 7 vs 9, Is 49 vs 7, Deut 32 vs 4, Ps 89 vs 87, Jn 17 vs 3, Ps 86 vs 15, 119 vs 86 & 128, 1Cor 1 vs,9, 1Cor 10 vs 13, Heb 11 vs 1, 10, 2, 1jn 1 vs 9, Num 23 vs 19, 1Pe 4 vs 11, Mt 24, Lk 10 vs 10, Rev 17 vs 14.
Be a faithful planter in the things of The Names of God.
The names of God
(A) Creatorship/Elohistic Names of God:
1. El – strong, powerful, mighty Gen. 14: 18-22, Is 7:14, Job 33:4, 37:10
2. Elohim – The Godhead – Ex 3 vs 1-6, 15; Ps 45:2,6
3. El-Elyon – The Highest – Gen 14 vs 18
4. El-Roi – The God that sees – Gen 16 vs 13 – 14
5. El-Shaddai – God is all-sufficient – Gen 17 vs 1
6. El-Plain – God is Everlasting – Gen 21 vs 33
7. El-Beth-El – God of the House of God – Gen 13, Gen 35 vs 7
8. El-Elohe-Isreal – God of the Prince of God – Gen 33 vs 20
9. Eloah – The one God
10. E! Gibbor – The mighty God – Is 9 vs 6, Jer 32 vs 18 – 19
11. Elohim – Elyon – The highest – Ps 91 1 vs 2, 78 vs 5-6
12. Elohim – Sabaoth – God of Hosts – Ps 80 vs 7, 114 – one who fights our battle.
13. A donor-Adonai – Master, Owner, Ruler – Ps 147 vs 5, Ps 86 vs 12
14. Emman -El – God with us Is 7 vs 14, Mt. 21 – 23
(B) REDEMPTIVE/JEHOVAHISTIC Names of God:
1. Jehovah (Yahweh) – I am that I am – Ex 3 vs 14-15, Mai 3
2. Jehovah – Elohim – The Lord God – Gen 2 vs 4,
3. Jah – Jehovah one who redeems – Ps 68; Ex 15 vs 2, Ex 17 vs 16
4. Jehovah -Elohim-Sabaoth – Lord God of Hosts – Ps 68 vs 6
5. Adonai-Jehovah-Sabaoth – Master Lord of Hosts – Ps 69 vs 6
6. Jah-Elohim – Lord God – Ps 68 vs 18
7. Jah-Jehovah – Lord Jehovah – Is 12 vs 2, 26 vs 4
8. Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will provide – Gen 22 vs 14
9. Jehovah Rapha – The Lord that heals – Ex 15 vs 26
10. Jehovah – Nissi – The Lord my banner (Victory) Ex 17 vs 15
11. Jehovah – Kanna – The Lord who is Jealous Ex 20 vs 5, 34, 14 Deut. 5 vs 9.
12. Jehovah – Mekaddeskum – The Lord who sanctifies – Ex 31 vs 13, Lev. 20 vs 8
13. Jehovah-Shalom – The Lord our peace, Judge 6 vs 24
14. Jehovah-Shaphat -The Lord is judge (Judge 11 vs 27)
15. Jehovah Sabaoth – The Lord of Hosts 1sam 1 vs 3, Ps 24 vs 10, 84 vs 13
16. Jehovah Elyon – The Lord Most High Ps 7 vs 17
17. Jehovah – Raah/Roi – The Lord my shepherd – Ps 23 vs 1
18. Jehovah-Hosenu – The Lord our maker Ps 95 vs 6
19. Jehovah- Gibbor – The Lord is mighty Is. 42 vs 13.
20. Jehovah- Isidkenu – the lord is righteousness, Jen. 23 vs 6
21. Jehovah-Shammah – The Lord is there; ever-present Ezek. 48: 35, Ps 139
22. Jehovah – Jehoshua (Yeshua) – Christos- The Lord Jesus Christ – Mat 1 vs 21, Acts 2 vs 34, Eph 1 vs 20 – 21, Lk 2 vs 11, 26, 27
The Different ways God has revealed Himself to Man
The name is very significant. It shows the nature and aspects of God. The Hebrews says Himself is this name and His name is Himself. The Creatorship names of God promote worship. This shows the relationship between God and His creatures.
The name El signifies strength. We think of the strongest when we talk of El. There is rest in Him (El) because nothing is too difficult for him.
Elohim is the plural of El – Gen 14vs 18 – 22. The Father is El. The son is El. Is. 7 vs 6, The Holyspirit is El Job 33 vs 4 & 10.
Elohim is used 2,500 times in the O/T. So Elohim is used of the trinity while El is singular. It (Elohim) signifies the oneness.
TRANSCENDENCE AND IMMANENCE
Divine transcendence and immanence are the related Christian doctrines that speak of God’s authority and control over his creation and people as King. God’s transcendence is seen in that he is exalted in his royal dignity and exercises both control and authority in his creation. Divine transcendence does not mean that he is so far from and other than his creation that we are not able to understand his self-revelation in the Scripture or relate to him in any way. Divine immanence is the description of his kingly control and authority; because he rules over creation, he is present throughout the whole creation, especially to his people, in a personal and covenantal way. Rather than describing God in an impersonal way, the doctrines of .transcendence and immanence ^describe the royal dignity and presence of the God who came to be among his people in Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us.
The terms transcendence and immanence:
They are not found in most versions of the Bible, but they are common in the theological literature to designate two kinds of relationships between God human beings In general to say that God is transcendent is to say that he is exalted, above, beyond us. To say that God is immanent is to say that he is present in time and space, that he
is near us. There is no biblical term that captures all of what theologians want to say about God’s transcendence, but the idea of immanence is helpfully summarized in the term Immanuel, God with us (Isa. 7:14; 8:8; Matt. 1:23).
Let us look first at how God is transcendent. Though the term transcendent is not itself biblical, it is a convenient way of grouping together certain biblical ideas. Scripture often speaks of God as “exalted” (Ps. 57:5; 97:9). He dwells “in heaven above” (Deut. 4:39; cf. Eccl. 5:2), even “above the heavens” (Ps. 8:1; 57:5). He is “enthroned on high” (Ps. 113:5); indeed, he is himself the “most high” (Ps. 97:9) So transcendence is a convenient term to summarize these ways in which God is “above us.”
Some ancient and modern writers, however, have taken God’s transcendence to mean something else:
God is so far above us, so very different from anything on earth, that we can say nothing, at least nothing positive, about him. He transcends our language, so anything we say about him is utterly inadequate. In modern theology, this concept leads to a skepticism about the adequacy of Scripture itself as a revelation of God and about the ability of human beings to say anything about God with real assurance (John Frame, The Doctrine of God, 110).
But Scripture itself never connects God’s transcendence with human uncertainty about God, let alone skepticism. While affirming God’s transcendence, Scripture speaks in clear and certain language about his nature and actions. Indeed, when God reveals himself “from heaven/’ he reveals himself clearly so that those who reject him have only themselves to blame.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Rom 1:18-22)
Then, it is wrong to think of God’s transcendence as a kind of cloud hiding God from the human mind. To be sure, there are passages in Scripture that emphasize God’s incomprehensibility, his mystery, such as Romans 11:33-36:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 11:33-36)
However, this passage does not speak of God’s transcendent existence “on high/’ but about God’s “ways” in history as described in Romans 1:1-11:32. What is mysterious in this passage is his “immanence/’ not his “transcendence.” As we saw earlier, Paul has spoken in Romans about the clarity of God’s revelation from “heaven” (1:18-21). Granting the mysteriousness of God’s actions in history, Paul is still able to speak of the mystery in clear human language. He tells the Roman church what it is that they do not know, and why they do not know it. The unknowns are “known unknowns.” And the mystery is always a mystery about a God who otherwise is “clearly” known.
How, then, should we define God’s transcendence, if it is not a barrier to our knowledge of God and our clear speaking about him? The biblical language of God “on high” or “in Heaven” refers uniformly to God’s royal dignity. He is “high” in the sense that the king’s throne is high above his subjects. Heaven” is a way to refer to God’s throne (Isa. 66:1). Of course, God transcends space as he transcends time. He does not dwell on a material throne, as Solomon observes at the consecration of the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kgs. 8:27). But there are certain places in the creation where God has ordained that we will sense his presence with particular intensity, like the burning bush in Exodus 3, the inner court of the Temple, and indeed the person of Jesus Christ, God’s temple incarnate (Matt. 12:6; John 2:19-22). Heaven is one of those places, a literal dwelling place of God far up in the sky, to which Jesus ascended when his earthly work was done (Acts 1:11).
But to say that God is “high” is not primarily to speak of his presence in any of those places. It is to speak of why he has the right to dwell in such places. They are his thrones, and he sits on them because he is the king. So if we choose to use the term transcendence to refer to God, we should use it to refer to his lordship, to his powers and rights as the king of everything he has made.
These lordship rights and powers are his control and his authority (see John Frame, The Doctrine of God). First, his control: Because he is lord, he is omnipotent; he has the power to do anything. That is, he has full control over the world he has made. Many of the Psalms, for example, celebrate his kingship by praising the strength by which he controls his domain (Ps. 2; 47; 93:1; 96:10-13; 97:1; 99:1).
His authority may be understood as his control over the moral sphere, but it would also be possible to understand God’s control as his authority over everything that happens. Still, in our usual philosophical discourse, we generally see control in terms of physical causation and authority as an imposition of moral obligation; control represents might and authority represents right. As God’s control, so the authority is-an implication of his lordship:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. (Exod. 20:1-3)
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the LORD your God. (Lev. 19:1-4)
Through the Leviticus text, the refrain “I am the LORD your God” is repeated fifteen times to reinforce the truth that Israel’s law is based on the authority of Gold’s lordship over them.
Therefore, we can define transcendence as God’s lordship over his world with particular reference to his royal prerogatives of control and authority. So understood, God’s transcendence does not imply that he is hidden from people; quite the contrary. Indeed, since his transcendence governs all the events of creation and his authority governs all his creatures, he is certainly the most visible being in the universe. As Paul says, his revelation is clear (Rom. 1:20).
God’s control and authority are such that he is present, immanent in all of his creation. We know already that God’s immanence is not some kind of opposite to God’s transcendence, some paradoxical negation of transcendence. Rather it is a necessary implication of his transcendence. God’s transcendence is a way of referring to his lordship over the world, but lordship does not confine God to a sphere beyond our knowledge. Indeed, it often refers to the way he rules the world of our history and experience. He controls the events of nature and history, including the course of our salvation from sin. And he expresses his authority by proclaiming to us his commands.
Indeed, God’s lordship is his covenant relation to the world he has made, particularly to the persons in it. It is not just a relationship of control and authority, but also of presence with his covenant partners. The heart of the covenant is a relationship of intimacy. The chief promise of the covenant is the Lord’s word, “I will be with you” (Gen. 21:22; 26:28; 28:15; 28:20; 31:3, 5; 39:3-4; Exod. 3:11-12; Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). God’s promise to Israel before the Exodus was, I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exod. 6:7). This intimate relationship, the heart of the covenant, resounds through Scripture (see Deut. 4:7, 20; 7:6; 14:7; 26:18; 2 Sam. 7:24; 2 Cor. 6:18; Rev. 21:7).
Because he is our God and we are his people, he will be “with us” for all eternity: Immanuel, mt 1:23 The importance of this divine-human intimacy cannot be stressed enough. It is the heart of our relationship to God in Christ. We should especially avoid two errors in this connection. First, we cannot fall into mysticism or pantheism, the notion that this immanence eliminates the distinction between creator and creature so that we become God, or that he becomes indistinguishable from us. Our relation to God is always personal relation between the divine person and ourselves as human persons. Secondly, deism, or the notion that since God is transcendent his to us is only a figure of speech, an “anthropomorphism. No! God is really and truly near to us, difficult as that may be for us to conceive. God’s immanence as we have understood it is the heart of biblical redemption, the very name of Jesus, God with us. (Immanuel -mt 1:23)
God’s covenant presence is primarily with his redeemed people. But in a broader sense it is with his whole creation, for the whole creation is part of the program of redemption:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Rom. 8:18-22) Indeed, there is a sense in which the creation itself will be redeemed through Christ:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. By him, all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Col. 1:15-20)
So we should understand God’s immanence, the covenant presence of his lordship, to be everywhere in the universe, as well as being especially intense in particular locations. God is “omnipresent,” present everywhere (Ps. 139:7-12), not only because he made everything and governs everything by his plan (Eph. 1:11) but because the created world serves his redemptive covenant purposes.
Scripture does not require us to use the terms transcendent and immanent, and some misuses of these terms have brought theological confusion. But if we define these concepts to express God’s lordship, his covenant relations to his world and his people, they can be used to express wonderful truths of God’s word: the riches of Christ, the depth of our relationship to God.
I SHALL STOP HERE FOR NOW, TILL THE NEXT UPDATE.
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