The Greatness of our God

When we think about the doctrine of God and his relationship to the created order we tend to think in terms of transcendence and immanence, we often say that if we do not get the emphasis right at this point our whole doctrine of God will suffer. But does a biblical view of God really deal in these  two categories?  It seems to me that the biblical portrayal of God is much more holistic, and one wonders whether we need to escape the normal terminology to deal with the biblical revelation more adequately. It seems to me that that the very first line of the bible stress such an integrated view of God that he is seen over against his creation, supremely above it and yet because he is such a God he is present in creation and sustains it, this concept deals a blow to any form of Panentheism, but at the same time it deals a mortal blow to deism. The biblical view shows a God who is active within his creation but who is not tied to his creation. This God who is greater than his creation, has created the world in such a way that it is constantly dependent upon him for its very existence. This goes against any concept of God that implies that he only intervenes in the world on exceptional occasions, perhaps this view of God’s providence also strikes a blow against open theism with its teaching that God does not know the future infallibly. What is more it, makes more sense of the relational aspect of God’s character being as it stresses the fact that God is sustaining and guiding this world towards the eschaton.  Surely we need a more comprehensive view that does not  demand a juggling of transcendence and immanence. The question has to be posed as to whether the influence of Greek Philosophy and rationalistic worldviews, rather than a dependence upon biblical categories There is such a rich vein of thought running throughout scripture that needs attention. As does the articulation of these themes throughout the history of the church, I will need to dialogue with voices from the past and the present to try and understand something more of the greatness of God. Also, these passages of scripture will need to be looked at among others Gen1-2, Exodus3, Psalm 139, Colossians I, Acts 17:16-34 other books will also shed light on this attention should be given to God’s self-revelation of himself throughout the bible including the book of Revelation. The thoughts below are only the beginning of this process.
The God who reveals himself throughout Scripture is a powerful god who reigns over all things and sustain all things by his own glorious power. sometimes we try to make a distinction between the supernatural and the natural but is this a valid move? surely the biblical revelation paints  more integrated view.
 The very first verse of the bible introduces us to a God of great power who creates,

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (Ge 1:1).

This verse and those following show that God is separate from his creation but is intimately involved in it, he precedes creation and is in no way to be confused with it. He is almighty and therefore he is involved in this world. His presence in this world flows from the fact that he is almighty God. The more we look at Genesis 1 the more we can see that it is because of his almighty power that he creates even in an intimate way as he does when he creates humankind. we see the same thing in Colossians chapter 1

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16       For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17       He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
(Col 1:15–17).

Notice the supremacy of Christ in these verses and yet because of his great power the whole of creation is held together. Paul does not make a separation between the fact of the Transcendent Christ and the immanent Christ, but rather he sees the greatness of God as an integrated whole. The fact that god creates through Christ leads automatically to the sustaining presence of the creator in his creation.
The first verses of the book of Hebrews paint a similar picture,

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2   but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4   So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (Heb 1:1–4).

Notice how the author moves from creation to providence, the providential work of god in creation is seen as an integral part of the whole teaching of creation. The creator God is one who cares for and sustains the world he has made.
Deism sees God as separate from creation in the way a watchmaker is separate from his watch, the world is created,and then God disappears from view. Pantheism and Panentheism both confuse the creator and  the creation, whereas the biblical teaching shows that our sovereign God is high and lifted up and because of that fact is intimately involved in his creation. The biblical view of God implies both majesty and intimacy, and we do not need to categorise them under two different headings or call these two aspects of the one God a paradox rather we need to see that one flows from the other in God’s self revelation of himself.

Very often we talk of the supernatural but is this really the way the Bible looks at things? or does it not rather see that the God who maintains this world is at liberty by that very fact to bring his power to bear on that creation either for healing , restoration or judgement. Our god is not one who is far off but rather he is one who is actively present in his creation at all times. What we often call a miracle is an act of restoring creation to what it should be. Miracle is never a contradiction of the laws of nature rather it shows how god maintains the laws he has implanted in nature. The problem is that we see the laws of nature as something independent of God rather than seeing them biblically as God’s law in nature. We believe in a God who is constantly active within his creation and therefore we see the miraculous as part of his redemptive purposes for a broken world, redemption does not contradict nature it heals it. This means that we see God’s creation as something that is good.
We could go on to look at various aspects of the relationship between God and the world, but that will have to wait for another occasion, I am aware that there are many more things to explore, but I can’t do that here.

About pneumaandlogos

David Rollings was born in Luton in1949 and raised by my Christian parents in the Gospel Standard Strict Baptist denomination( Hyper-Calvinistic} in the sixties I rebelled against this background and got involved in left-wing politics. I became a Christian in 1969 and soon started reading Francis Schaeffer's books and came to embrace a Christian Worldview. I had the privilege of being on the staff of L'Abti Fellowship from1975 - 1979. After L'abri I studied at London School of Theology where I gained my BA.(1983) A few years later I studied for my MA by distance learning with The Nazarene Theological College Manchester (1999) For the last 25 years, I have been an elder of Shoreham-by-Sea Baptist Church. I also regularly attend the Christian Doctrine Study Group of the Tyndale Fellowship.
This entry was posted in almighty God, creation, Greatness of god, immanence, redemption, sin, Theology, transcendence and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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