Summary: God is above all creation yet active in it
All Glory to God
September 25, 2011
If I were to ask you to describe God what would you say? That He is Spirit? Truth? Love?
Surely we can all think of at least some things to begin to describe Him, but I want to focus on two this morning. Specifically I want to talk about God’s transcendence and His immanence. Transcendence describes how God is above or superior to everything in creation, and immanence describes how God is involved in creation. Some people see them as contradictory—how can God be outside and above everything and yet be involved in everything?
Let’s look at Ephesians 3:20-21:
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
What can we gather about God from this text? Well, first, I think we can say…
God is higher above creation than we can even imagine
This is what I mean when I say that God is transcendent. Look at the verse again:
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think
What is it that God can do? He can do exceeding (the Greek word is “hyper” as in hyper-drive) abundantly more than we can ask or even think. In other words God can do way more than even the most complex thoughts our minds can muster. Now if He can do more than we can imagine then He must be way more than we can imagine.
Think about some of these verses:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Is. 55:8-9).
The difference between God and man is as great as the distance between outer space and earth—it’s infinite!
Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? 14With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding? (Is. 40:13-14).
God is beyond teaching. He doesn’t ask us what we think, and He doesn’t seek our approval or our advice.
Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known (Ps. 77:19).
The only things we know about Him are what He’s told us and allowed us to understand. To learn more about Him would be like trying to track someone whose footprints are hidden at the bottom of the sea.
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you (Ex. 3:13-14).
God is independent from and above everything else: He doesn’t need to eat or drink, He doesn’t need oxygen, He can’t die, He doesn’t age, He can’t be sick or injured, He doesn’t fail, He doesn’t seek wisdom, and He isn’t fooled. He always accomplishes His purposes and He knows everything that has ever happened and ever will happen. He ordains it!
He is superior to everything and exceedingly far above it.
You can’t explain Him or define Him even if you used every word in every language and tried it for eternity. By His own definition He is: “I AM THAT I AM.”
And so we know that we can never give Him enough credit or praise. There is…
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Eph. 4:6).
And this is where we get the next attribute. God is above all,
Yet, God still indwells His people and is active in His creation
Look at our verse again:
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us…
This is what we mean when we talk about God’s immanence. There are people who claim to be Christians who say that God created everything, but now He’s just sitting in space sort of watching us through a window.
What does this verse say?
God is unimaginably powerful, and yet He works His power in us! God hasn’t stepped off the scene: in fact, everything that happens, and everything that’s possible is all because He’s active in His creation: