Transcendence and Immanence

Yesterday I introduced three basic tenets for why God is Lord (Jehovah) and Jesus is Lord (since They are One):  Control, Authority, and Presence.  If you missed this article, read it by clicking here.  Transcendence and immanence are two terms which describe the God of the Bible, even though they are not terms found in the Bible.  The Bible talks about God being “On high” (transcendence), it speaks of God being “with us” (immanence).

Some teachers/pastors/theologians have misunderstood God’s transcendence. suggesting God is so far away (above) us that we cannot really know Him personally, our language can’t describe Him adequately or accurately, making God nothing more than a heavenly blur without any definitive characteristics.  This view of transcendence is unbiblical, because the Bible teaches we CAN know definite things about God, and even come to know Him personally.

Jeremiah 33:2-3
This is what the LORD says—the LORD who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the LORD: Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.

When the Bible uses terms like “on high”, “exalted”, or “lifted up” it does not mean distance, it means the glory of enthronement.  God is King, He is LORD…transcendent above us in His Lordship, being in control and having all authority.

Isaiah 6:1
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

In this same way, using the term immanence,  should refer to God’s presence among us and within us.  The misinformed speak about God becoming immersed in the world, hidden, so that He cannot be distinguished from creaturely reality, referring to His humanness.  But this is not Biblical teaching either.

Jesus incarnate was neither hidden nor consumed in His humanity.  Yes, He emptied Himself, the Bible says. Yes, He didn’t think holding on to His eternity-based God-ness was something to be held onto, the Bible says.  What He did say was “I’m going to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you can be too.”  [Philippians 2, John 14]

So, here’s the thing.

Transcendence and immanence are not that difficult when you think of it this way…

God is not so far away that He doesn’t know you exist, or what you’re going through.  And He isn’t so far above you that you can’t know Him personally.  In fact that is His plan exactly, for you to find Him and know Him, as Lord (transcendence).

To make this easier for you, He came to earth Himself (immanence – Jesus) to implement the plan of God for humanity to be saved.  His Spirit is right next to you now, leading you to this truth.  And when you trust in Jesus as LORD, embracing His saving power in your life, this same Spirit comes to reside inside of you… His presence never leaving you.

Next time:  Who is God?

 

 

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