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The Transcendence and Immanence of God

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Immanuel

23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

We learn of the omnipresence of God in the OT, we understand that He sees all and knows all even before Jesus we have this revelation.

Paradox

Old Testament - The Tabernacle

Then I started thinking about the Holy of Holies and how God instructed it to be separated by the veil. It was symbolic of the separation of God and man.
So God was really out of reach, man did not have access to Him.
“God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being.” -C.S. Lewis
Contrast that with one of the first events that took place after Jesus said “It is finished”. The veil in the temple was torn in two.

Transcendent

Exceeding the limits of possible experience or knowledge
Transcending the universe or material existence
For most of us as unsaved people God was transcendent.
It is only by experiencing God’s Immanence in Christ that we can be saved.

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.

9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways

And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Who is like the LORD our God,

Who is enthroned on high,

6 Who humbles Himself to behold

The things that are in heaven and in the earth?

Immanent

Being within the limits of possible experience or knowledge

They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Paradox

“God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being.” -C.S. Lewis
“God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being.” -C.S. Lewis

Mediators in the OT

The concept of a mediator was not unique to Jesus, in the OT God used many different vehicles to communicate to man.
He used prophets, angels, men, women, burning bush, donkey etc...
God wanted to meet the Israelites in the wilderness on a mountain of fire and smoke.

Mediator in the NT

Greek philosophers, in attempting to understand the relationship between God and the universe, spoke of an unknown mediator between God and the universe, naming this mediator, “Logos (Λογος).” John tells them that this mediator unknown to them is our Lord, and he uses the same name “Logos (Λογος).

So if this is true then we understand that philosophers were philosophizing that God was transcendent and that means he is outside the limits of possible experience, then if he was to somehow communicate a mediator would be needed.
So the name they gave to this mediator was Logos.
John 1:1-3
John 1:1-3

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 He was in the beginning with God.

3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

John 1:14

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:17-18

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.

17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

Experiencing the Transcendent God

Here is the best way I can explain it
Can any of us get a meeting with the president
Could any of us not only get 1 meeting but meet with him enough times to really get to know him personally?
What if he wrote a daily journal with his most intimate thoughts and life story and released it to the public?
Experiencing the Transcendent God
The concept of a mediator was not unique to Jesus, in the OT God used many different vehicles to communicate to man.
He used prophets, angels, men, women, burning bush, donkey etc...

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,

2 ain these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the fworld.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,

2 ain these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the fworld.

Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were being influenced from the outside.
The writer of Hebrews was tasked with proving that Jesus and the New Covenant was superior to the Old in every way.
The Jews did not get the concept of “God With Us” they still thought we needed other mediators.

18 All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance.

19 Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.”

20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”

22 “These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain from the midst of the fire, of the cloud and of the thick gloom, with a great voice, and He added no more. He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me.

23 “And when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders.

24 “You said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives.

25 ‘Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer, then we will die.

26 ‘For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?

27 ‘Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.’

They were basically being swayed with the argument that Jesus was inferior to the OT Mediators, namely the Angels, Moses etc...
The writer of Hebrews was tasked with proving that Jesus and the New Covenant was superior to the Old in every way.

Heb 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,

2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

The Jews were not the only religion that wanted to put mediators between them and God.
Even in our own community we have a large population of people who pray to saints and to Mary.
I am not going to harp on that topic but the point is this if you do put other mediators besides Jesus to get to God you don’t know God and you don’t know what Jesus came to accomplish for you.
New Agers are Panthiest, they believe god is in everything - taking away God’s transcendence
Deist and religions like Islam do not believe in a personal God that you can pray to directly - They do not believe in a God who is Immanent

Experiencing the Transcendent God

So if Jesus was the Logos and we have the complete revelation of Him in our Bibles then why doesn’t everyone who reads the Bible automatically get saved.
The Pharisees memorized large portions of Scripture yet Jesus appeared right before them and they missed God.
There are smart people with long titles and degrees behind their names that have doctorates in divinity, who read the bible all day for a career who are not saved.
I grew up going to Catholic school and everyday we had religion class and the Bible and Jesus were mentioned everyday but I didn’t find God.
How come for myself and other people who have been exposed to spiritual things…did God remain Transcendent and why do we fail to experience God as immanent.

For thus says the high and exalted One

Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,

“I dwell on a high and holy place,

And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit

In order to revive the spirit of the lowly

And to revive the heart of the contrite.

16 “For I will not contend forever,

Nor will I always be angry;

For the spirit would grow faint before Me,

And the breath of those whom I have made.

17 “Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him;

I hid My face and was angry,

And he went on turning away, in the way of his heart.

18 “I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;

I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners,

19 Creating the praise of the lips.

Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,”

Says the LORD, “and I will heal him.”

What will get the transcendent God to come near to us?
Brokenness, Humility
How many of us were struck by God because of our sin?
Like David said it was good that I was afflicted...
How many of us went on turning away in our hearts?
But God healed us and restored…He forgave us!
Peace, Peace:
there were those who were near, they knew the Word, the promises, they were sure to be well behaved(at least outwardly) they grew up learning the stuff but were never broken before a Holy God.
There were those who were far away from God, living a life of complete rebellion, in idolatry and sin…in the same way they can know the nearness of God.

Thus says the LORD,

“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.

Where then is a house you could build for Me?

And where is a place that I may rest?

2 “For My hand made all these things,

Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD.

“But to this one I will look,

To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

66:1 Thus says the Lord,
Acts 17:16-28
Acts 17:16–28 NASB95
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? “For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.) So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’
“Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.
Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that I may rest?
2 “For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord.
“But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
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