“Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.”
…Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’…”
Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.
Not only is our God transcendent, above us in every way, but He is also immanent. In other words, He has an indwelling presence in the universe and is personally involved in its in-workings and out-workings.
Immanence describes a God who is at hand, working through the minutiae of the lives of His creation to produce a love for and enjoyment of His Word, His Gospel, and Himself. God does not sit back and merely observe a creation which he set in motion millennia ago; he is present and actively participating in His world. This gives the believer rest in the knowledge that there is no place or situation that is too far to be under God’s protecting hand.
Wayne Grudem (research professor, Phoenix Seminary) explains the uniqueness of this attribute in his Systematic Theology (parenthetical notes added):
In the teaching of the Bible, God is both infinite and personal: he is infinite (transcendent) and personal (immanent): he is infinite in that he is not subject to any of the limitations of humanity, or of creation in general. He is far greater than everything he has made, far greater than anything else that exists. But he is also personal: he interacts with us as a person, and we can relate to him as persons. We can pray to him, worship him, obey him, and love him, and he can speak to us, rejoice in us, and love us.
Apart from the true religion found in the Bible, no system of religion has a God who is both infinite and personal.
Other attributes we’ve discussed so far:
[This post is adapted from Blue Letter Bible’s Theological FAQs page.]
Elton Taylor saysSeptember 8, 2011 at 4:13 am
Thanks for sharing this! I’d never before taken the time to research “immanence,” but I now have a greater appreciation for this attribute of GOD. It’s truly amazing how the transcendent beauty of our GOD does not discourage Him from being so hands-on with us, who are so finite, fragile and imperfect.
Ghia saysSeptember 8, 2011 at 5:04 am
How wonderful that the God of all creation chooses to be personally involved with my every care rather than watching from a distance! I am so grateful that my Lord became my Savior and demonstrated His love for me by dying on the cross, thereby opening the door for such personal fellowship. That He loves me so much is truly amazing and overwhelming. That He cares to be personal with me is far more wonderful than words can say.
Jan saysOctober 10, 2011 at 4:00 am
I fully agree we are so very blessed. Well put Ghia.I for one can appreicate your thought process concerning how he’s with us at all time knowing that about Him is how I make it each day.
larry saysSeptember 8, 2011 at 5:07 am
Why is is so hard to remember this fact when the minutia becomes a mountain? I am tired of this weakness and am still reluctant to rely entirely on His strengths. This dead man within keeps awakening me with his rattle and last gasps. I want to blame someone else and there is no one. I cannot feel this Immanence, however I am willing to believe it.
My good friend reminded me that there will be a time when I meet God face to face. Christ will be there and no one else but me. So much for blame. My desire is to live a holy life. It seem that is impossible and a frustrating goal. I am a fool, however I show up and He is always there. At least I can turn to Him in prayer. Sometimes I would like to have Jesus with some skin and bones on him.
Ghia saysSeptember 9, 2011 at 6:56 am
Larry, I too have longed to feel His Immanence regularly and totally each day, every minute. Yet, I have learned that the frail vessel that I am could never contain or hold up to the continual presence of one so holy, one so pure, one so righteous. My weakness longs for His power and yet it is my weakness that prevents this very desire.
Once heard a wise youth evangelist explain God’s “silence” to a youth group this way…”The teacher never speaks during the test. The teacher instructs and provides information before the test but once the papers are passed out the teacher remains silent, in the room but silent.” What a marvelous word picture of our God allowing the working of His Word, through Holy Spirit, to bring change, maturity and life to these ragged, dirty shells we call home.
Greg saysSeptember 9, 2011 at 11:07 am
You’re post hit a lot of familiar cords with me, I’ve often complained, likening the resilience of the enemy, to Goliath getting up after David struck him with the rock (Why won’t he stay dead?)… and also hesitating to trust God fully because maybe I misunderstood, or maybe He won’t deliver as promised… so I hedge my bets.
I can’t feel His immanence, but He helps me see it… recognize it. I was praying last night as all the dross surfaced to try and tell me it’s impossible to defeat, to get rid of… and so I was just asking Him how I was supposed to do this? This morning, was reminded of Psalm 18, and it took me a minute to realize He was showing me the answer to the question I’d asked the night before.
I’m with you on His physical presence, though! I was thinking how great it would be to be able to ask Him to explain a parable, or what He really means as the disciples did and hear Him answer in real time… Thing is, He already does that, I’ve recently been reminded that my ears have become dull of hearing (distracted by other things and fear of trusting Him fully). But He promises that with exercise, discernment will come. Pr 2; Heb 5:11-14
I feel badly for the conclusion Ghia has reached as Paul in both Phil 3 and Eph 3 shows something far greater than making due. Even a teacher during a test will come over and help when a hand is raised…
Debi saysSeptember 8, 2011 at 9:03 am
Every day, I see God’s work of grace in my life when I humbly come to Him and admit I am helpless, inadequate and human.
I have been learning this from reading Blue Letter Bible’s Day by Day Grace every morning. Like Larry, who commented before me, I do not “feel” His immanence, but I know He is there, and that is an awesome thing! That is faith at work, Larry, to KNOW! I am glad that the Lord is always mindful of me.
All this knowledge about God just makes me want to continually thank him. I feel so badly when the cares of my day get in the way, but one little cry of “HELP!!” from my heart, and He is there to rescue me with comfort, or peace or a little correction.
And that is how God is immanent in my life.
Debi saysSeptember 8, 2011 at 9:08 am
By the way, I love how this blog is “deep” and not “fluffy”.
Now I read this every morning along with Day by Day Grace and my chapter reading of the Bible every morning.
What a great way to start the day! A good cup of coffee and talking to God! YES!
Thank you for this Blog!
Joshua saysSeptember 8, 2011 at 9:09 am
What a friend we have in Jesus! To take on this earthly body, die a horrific death on the cross, raised in glory, and ascended on high. O what friend we have in Jesus. What a comfort it is to know that the God of all comfort sees the details of my daily life and is intricately involved in them. Praise and Glory and Honor be to our God forever and ever!!!
“The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of my salvation.” Psalm 18:46
Greg saysSeptember 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm
So this makes me think of Judges 6:12,13 as those are the questions I’d ask. But re-reading the post and thinking that if he were a Levite, back in the day, talking to me as I threshed the grain in the wine press saying what he did and quoting who and what he did, I’d be tempted to chase him to the next county with the threshing flail.
“…where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’…”
Charles saysSeptember 9, 2011 at 1:35 am
I have spent a long time in Job 23.
1 Then Job answered and said,
2 Even today is my complaint bitter:
my stroke is heavier than my groaning.
3 Oh that I knew where I might find him!
That I might come even to his seat!
4 I would order my cause before him,
and fill my mouth with arguments.
5 I would know the words which he would answer me,
and understand what he would say unto me.
6 Will he plead against me with his great power?
No; but he would put strength in me.
7 There the righteous might dispute with him;
so should I be delivered for ever from my judge.
8 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there;
and backward, but I cannot perceive him:
9 on the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold
him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see
Tony saysSeptember 9, 2011 at 3:47 am
How Great and Awesome is God, Who along in His infinite wisdom descended to earth in the body of Jesus who is Christ to commune with His most prized creation delivering us from the nature of sinful flesh, there is none like Him forgiving, loving changing our lives and the penalty of death by His resurrection power, then he ascended up on high(Acts 1:9)sent us the Holy Ghost witness in the Name of Jesus to live in us a righteous, chosen, peculiar people nation and family of God in Christ, Bless the Name of Jesus the immanent power of God.(Rom.1:16)
Joshua saysSeptember 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm
Amen and amen!!!
Barbara Ferris saysSeptember 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm
I just “happened” onto your site!! What a joy! I’ve been a Bible teacher for 35 years, and have acquired a room filled with Christian commentaries, concordances, etc.
How great to find so much to access in this one place. God bless you at BLB. This will become a habit.
Steve mc saysSeptember 30, 2011 at 7:59 am
“O Lord of all, transcendent
Thou, life creating Son
To Worlds on thee dependent,
Yet bruised and spit upon.”
A dependent universe is but a light thing for our transcendent Lord. Consider this in comparison to the heavy load of sin that was laid upon Him at Calvary.
Only He could bring dignity to a Roman cross or bring a sinner justified before the throne of God.
“Nearer to God I cannot be
For in the person of His Son
I am as near as He…”
No wonder that those who witnessed the Lord’s miracles would say,
“We have seen a paradox today!” This one who is labeled a blasphemer because He claimed equality with the Father, shows Himself as to be the express image of God by the power of the Holy Spirit…
What a fog of doubt clouds my appreciation of His nearness!