The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? —Ps. 113:4-6
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “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 God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. —Acts 17:24-25
The Bible describes God as both transcendent and immanent. To hold an accurate view of God, we must live with the tension inherent in these opposing characteristics.
Transcendent means that God is far above and greater than His creation. He is and always will be infinite, independent, unchanging, and sovereign. God’s transcendence is evident in the following passages:
Scripture is equally clear that God is immanent. He is not an abstract deity removed from His creation. He is and always will be personal, relational, responsive, and engaged. The following passages express His immanence: Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. —Is. 49:15-16
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. —Lk. 12:6-7
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” —Ro. 8:15, NAS
In many passages both immanence and transcendence are described. Here is one example:
The LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods [transcendence]. . . . Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care [immanence]. —Ps. 95:3,6-7
about the author
TIM MUEHLHOFF serves with Grad Resources, helping prepare graduate students to thrive in higher education. He also teaches communication courses at Biola University. In addition to being a passionate fan of Detroit Red Wing hockey, Tim enjoys playing baseball with his three boys.
Copyright © Discipleship Journal. Used by permission of Discipleship Journal. Copyright © Sept/Oct. 2006, Issue 155, The Navigators. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. www.navpress.com