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06192011 - Our God - Immensely Imminent

Notes & Transcripts

Jeremiah 23:23-24

Last week, we considered the infinity of God. When we say that God is infinite, we are referring to one of those ‘incommunicable’ attributes that has no point of contact in us.  This is one of those characteristics of God that we do not find in his created beings.  Infinity contrasts God with His creatures. God is infinite.  He has no beginning and no end. Man is finite.  He has a beginning, but was created to live eternally. God is infinite in all His attributes – his wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are from everlasting to everlasting, they are without end.

When we say God is infinite, we are mainly referring to two things -  his eternity and what theologians call his immensity - His omnipresence. God is spirit and not bound by time, therefore He is eternal. God is not bound by space, therefore He is everywhere.  He is omnipresent.   This week and the next couple weeks we are going to consider the ‘omni’s of God’s Attributes . . .

    • His omnipresence - he is in all places, but not contained by any place.
    •  His omniscience - he is all knowing and has decreed all things that come to pass.
    • His omnipotence - he is all powerful .

Omnipresence literally means that God is present everywhere in time, but not limited by time or space.  The technical term for this reality is OMNIPRESENCE. This is a Latin word, with "omni" meaning "all" and "presence" meaning—oddly enough—"presence." In other words, there is no place God is not present. God is everywhere all at once without being divided or separated in parts or pieces.

God is infinite (limitless, immeasurable), meaning He is not bound by time as it relates to His omniscience (all knowledge of past, present, future events) since time is a product of His creation. In a similar manner, God is not bound by space as it relates to His omnipresence since it, too, is just a product He has created. Therefore, God is not limited or confined to a certain area at any one time. God is spirit (Jn. 4:24). Therefore, His presence is all encompassing. Jonah did not understand this quality of God and tried to flee from the presence of God (Jonah 1:3ff).

Some have tried to illustrate this by saying God’s omnipresence is like the air in this room – you can’t see it, but you know it is all around us, but that analogy falls short of describing God’s omnipresence because air is composed of particles, atoms and molecules that can’t be in two places at one time.  The air in the conference room and the air in the Sunday school classroom is not the same as the air in this room.  God is not present in the whole universe the way air fills the room, since some molecules are in one place in the room while others are in another. All of God is everywhere. Maybe a better illustration is that God is “in” or present in the whole universe the way a mind is in its brain, or the way in which beauty is present in a work of art, or that thought is in a sentence, or that the dance can be separated from the dancer. In each case, the one is present in and penetrates the whole without a part of it being in a part of the other.

This is a point Jesus made in John 4:20-24, and the same is referenced in Acts 7:48-50.  God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.   Since God’s presence is everywhere all at once, everyone on the earth and in the heavens that worships God can do it in the presence of God because of His omnipresence and we all are doing it simultaneously in eternity. In addition, there is no place on the earth where God’s presence is greater as far as locale is concerned. Jerusalem is no more holy a place than Pueblo, West.  God is present in all his fullness there just as he is here this morning – when you leave – get in your car – drive home . . . .

 But here is where we have to be careful.  As we think about God in creation, we are not talking about pantheism – that God is ‘in’ or ‘contained’ in everything.  God is in this pulpit.  He is in the carpet.  He is in the rocks and the trees outside.  Remember, God is pure spirit and is not contained in anything.  Where he is all of him is without division into parts and pieces.

The word ‘omnipresent’ describing God is nowhere to be found in our Bibles – any more than the word ‘Trinity’ or ‘omniscience’ is found there, but the concept of God’s omnipresence is found in the Scriptures from beginning to end. . . .

But God Is Not Limited By Space (Jeremiah 23:23-24).

We see in Jeremiah that God is not limited by space. Jeremiah chapter 23 deals with God’s condemnation of false prophets (shepherds, pastors) who claim to speak in God’s name but who speak lies.
Jeremiah 23:21 says, "I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied." These false prophets were giving the nation of Israel false hope, because they were speaking lies in God’s name, comforting lies, but lies nonetheless. Apparently these false prophets thought that God didn’t see or hear or know what they were doing. Here God reveals that he’s a God who’s everywhere.  

Jeremiah 23:23-24—"Am I only a God nearby," declares the LORD, "and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD (NIV).

In the ancient world gods were thought to be localized to their own domain, usually indicated by a temple or a shrine. It was commonly thought if you went beyond a particular god’s territory you were no longer under that god’s protection. But here we find that God describes himself as being both near and far. These false prophets have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. God fills heaven and earth, which means there’s no place in the universe that God is not present.

God has no spatial limits because God is not composed of physical matter. God doesn’t have spatial properties like size, weight, and height because God is Spirit. Because of God’s nature, He’s personally present in every place (imminent) without being contained or limited by anything (immense).

SINCE GOD HAS NO SPATIAL LIMITS, WE CAN BE CONFIDENT OF HIS PRESENCE.  This reality is both comforting and convicting

The psalmist expresses how nothing can be done secretly before God. Psalm 139:7-10 says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.”

Solomon expresses the same truth about God in Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”

And Jeremiah warns the false prophets of his day that there is no where that they can flee from God.  “God is near at hand” reminds us that God is with us to aid us in our time of trial and to convict us in our time of temptation.  He is “not a God (who is) far off” reminds us that we cannot escape God’s presence when it comes to doing things we ought not to do. God is immense (omnipresent) but at the same time personal and imminently close to us.

Isaiah 41:10 (NASB95)
10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Acts 2:33 (NASB95)
33 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.

Let us remember as we go through life – living in time and space - that God who is infinite and eternal - in Christ by his Spirit is always with us. God is with us when we go through difficult times, for He is imminently near, but He is also there when we sin – fall and fail Him, for He is not far off.  He is the God who sees (אֵ֣ל רֳאִ֑י) (el roi) (Gen 16:13).  God may be ignored, but he cannot be avoided! As we live out our lives in the presence of God, let us always strive to do those things that will bring glory and honor to Him as our savior and as our God knowing that “no one can hide in a secret place so that God cannot see him” (Jer 23:24).

This reality can comfort you or it can convict you. As believers we should love the comforting attribute of God's omnipresence, for as Isaac Watts (#36 The New Trinity Hymnal - Red) said so poetically...

Within thy circling power I stand;
On every side I find Thy hand;
Awake, asleep, at home, abroad,
I am surrounded still with God.

The last stanza #17 – O may these thoughts
possess each breast,
Where’er we rove, wher’er we rest!
And since thou dost thy children see
may we be holy like to thee . . .

But the comforting doctrine of divine omnipresence is also convicting, as Spurgeon explains...

Our motto is, “With God, anywhere. Without God, nowhere...There is no place so well-adapted for the discovery of sin and recovery from its power and guilt as the immediate presence of God. Get into God’s arms, and you will see how to hit at sin. You will gather strength to give the final blow which shall lay the monster in the dust. Job never knew how to get rid of sin half so well as he did when his eye of faith rested on God, and he abhorred himself, and repented in dust and ashes (Job 42:5, 6).  This doctrine of the omnipresence of God comforts the afflicted, and it afflicts those who are comfortable.

God dwells and inhabits and fills the heavens and the earth – there is no place where he is not.  He is immense and at the same time imminently near and intimately personal. 

"“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20, NASB95)

"There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6, NASB95)

For those who by God’s grace and the power of His Holy Spirit have put their faith and trust in Him, know this: He dwells in you, not just a part of Him, but all of Him! Brothers and sisters, if we truly believed this and firmly took hold of this reality I believe it would transform the way we live.  

I believe that if we could firmly grasp this reality:  that He dwells in us – “that it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me”; that He fills us by His Spirit with all the fullness of God so that we might have communion with God in the Holy of Holies through that connection we have with His Son by His Spirit interceding for us; that God dwells around us, that God is everywhere and around everything, and everything has its existence within Him and the wonder of all wonders and miracles of all miracles is that he dwells in us by His Spirit, I firmly believe that if this truth permeated our thinking, we would understand that what we do in the body, we do against Christ, the eternal Son of God and we would truly comes to know what it means to glorify God and enjoy Him forever . . .

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