Attributes Of God 1
Attributes Of God: Transcendence
Text: Isaiah 40:18-25
Thesis: To see how God transcends our human experience, and why this should endear us to Him.
1. A park ranger at Yellowstone National Park was once approached by a person who seemed
to be in a hurry. “Excuse me, sir,” they began, “I’ve never been to Yellowstone, and I have
only an hour. I wonder if you could tell me what I should do with that hour.” The old
park ranger thought for a moment and then said, “Only an hour? Ah, if I had only an hour in Yellowstone, I think I would just sit down and cry.”
2. How can we describe God in 30 minutes? We can’t, of course. But it’s important that we
keep trying to learn more about Him as often as we can.
3. James Packer in Knowing God, wrote: “Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives. As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life with it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know God. Disregard the study of God and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”
4. Let us spend our time this evening considering the transcendence of God.
I. The Transcendence Of God Presented In The Bible
A. Introduction to the concept of “transcendence”:
1. “Transcendence” is a word we seldom use, if at all. It means that something “goes beyond”. To “ascend” means to go up, to “descend” means to go down, and to “transcend” means to go beyond. It’s a word that is well suited to God.
2. Hos. 11:9 - Perhaps the best short summary of the idea as it’s related to God is this: “I am God and not man”. We cannot understand God by understanding man. He goes beyond human experience.
3. The only way we can begin to understand God is by reading whatever information He has given us in His word.
B. God transcends human experience in many different ways:
1. Gen. 1:1 - In the opening verse of the Bible, we learn much about God:
a. He transcends time - He was present before days and the measurement of time were created.
b. He transcends the physical - He was present before the physical world and universe were created.
c. He transcends the human - Man had not yet appeared, and yet God was there.
2. God transcends human knowledge:
a. Isa. 46:9,10 - Human knowledge is limited to what has gone before us. What lies ahead is shrouded in mystery. But God declares the end from the beginning.
b. Psa. 139:1-4 - God possesses intimate knowledge of people that even people don’t have. He knows all we have done; he knows our thoughts; he even knows the word that is on our tongue before we speak it. He transcends us in wisdom!
3. God transcends space:
a. Psa. 139:7-10 - David could find no place where God was not.
b. Jer. 23:23,24 - God challenged any person to play hide-and-seek with Him! We can’t possibly win, for God fills heaven and earth.
4. Psa. 2:2-4 - God’s sovereignty transcends all of man’s political and military power. No one can thwart the will of God.
5. Isa. 55:8,9 - God transcends human understanding of right and wrong. Though we may feel certain we know what God condones or condemns, we can never be sure until we hear it from God Himself.
C. Isa. 40:25 - God’s question to Israel continues to challenge us. Is there anyone to whom we can compare God? No way! God is unique in the highest sense of the word “unique”. There is no one like Him, in heaven, on earth or under the earth! He transcends all.
II. God’s Transcendence Made Personal
A. How should we feel about a transcendent God? Do we regard Him with fear, as we would a category 5 hurricane, a storm that surpasses all human efforts to withstand it? Do we regard Him as we might an alien creature, fearful of its motives and intentions toward us?
B. God’s transcendence bent in man’s direction:
1. Isa. 57:15 - The first part of this verse is what we would expect: God is high and lofty, inhabiting eternity, dwelling in the high and holy place. But the second part we would not expect - dwelling with those who have a contrite and humble spirit. Does God really condescend to us?
2. Isa. 55:1,2 - God’s invitation of companionship and help is extended to all. He offers the good things of life “without money and without price”.
3. Isa. 55:6,7 - He encourages us to seek Him while He may be found. Those who return to the Lord will find mercy and abundant pardon.
4. Job 9:16 - But what if God is playing tricks with us? Like Job of old, will God really care what we say? Does He really take a personal interest in us?
5. Mat. 1:22,23 - With the coming of Jesus, we have proof that God cares. Jesus is Immanuel - “God with us”!
6. Eph. 3:20,21 - Now we have the promise of God, the transcendent God, working through us. He transcends all that we ask or think of Him. He is ready to do us so much good!
C. Thus we learn from God’s word that God doesn’t just transcend; He also descends. He reaches down to us, and even came to live among us. What a wonderful God!
1. J.B. Phillips, in Your God Is Too Small: “"Many men and women today are living, often with inner dissatisfaction . . . because they have not found . . . a God big enough to 'account for' life, big enough to 'fit in with' the new scientific age, big enough to command their highest admiration . . . and consequently their willing cooperation."
2. We find in the Bible that God is large; far larger than anything man could have invented. He
exceeds everything that human experience would expect - including His mercy and grace!