Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Focusing a little bit more on God's attributes and His omnipresence

Psalm 139:7-12 Where can I go from Your Spirit?Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You."
Yesterday we considered some introductory thoughts to God's omniscience. We also considered what we mean when we speak of God's attributes. An attribute, as we saw from G.W.T Shedd in his systematic theology, refers to the activity and function of God's very essence or being. To bring a little more clarity to our understanding of attributes, the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, page 492, speaks of attributes and their relationship to any object or person as: "essential qualities that belong or inhere in it." If our understanding runs short in grasping what we mean when we talk of God's attributes, the analogy of the sun to its rays may aid in picturing this relationship. God cannot be God without His attributes. God's attributes or characteristics are what He is. 

Oftentimes theologians will distinguish God's absolute or eternal attributes (omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence) from what are His moral attributes (holiness, justice, goodness). Another distinction that if often-times made has to do in how we know God in His relationship to us. There are those attributes of God that totally place Him in a category all by Himself. Those attributes (like omniscience, self-sufficiency) are unique to God and thus are "incommunicable". Other attributes which describe us in measure and God in full measure are what we call "communicable attributes". 

Now why this discussion on attributes? Because in Psalm 139 we see God and all of His major attributes on display. We looked yesterday at God's omniscience. Today we want to consider, in an introductory sense, God's omnipresence or the fact that He is everywhere present. It is hoped that our discussion of attributes will aid us in the chief point of these posts - namely in focusing our attention on the greatness of God. 

God is everywhere or omnispresent. Psalm 139:7-12
God is without a doubt One God. Here in Psalm 139:7-12 we are given insight into the fact that God in regards to identity is not just One Person but Three Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). In other words, God is "One what and three who's). The Person called here in Psalm 139 "God" (the New Testament uniformly refers to this First Person as "The Father") is distinct from a Personage called in Psalm 139:7 "Your Spirit".  The truth of God's plural identity is likened unto a faint outline in the Old Testament and presented in full vivid color in the New Testament. 

Why bring up the Trinity? because God's ability to be everywhere present (i.e omnipresence) requires the teaching of the Trinity to ensure we don't mix up the distinction the Bible holds between the Creator and His creation. The Father in Heaven is able to affect everything everywhere because He is sharing the same infinite nature with the Spirit Who represents His presence both in Heaven and on earth.

Psalm 139:7 has the Psalmist posing this question: "Where can I go from Your Spirit?Or where can I flee from Your presence?" The remainder of Psalm 139:8-12 then mentions supposed places that would be impossible to access - and yet are nothing for God. Whenever we think we are inaccessible, God is ever able to get to us. His presence permeates all of creation and yet He is distinct from it. As the Father in Heaven, the Spirit here on earth and the Son functioning as the Mediator between the Father and man, we find the totality of God within and truly expressed in and each of the Persons of the Trinity. 

Now why is this applicable to you and me? To know that God is omnipresent means I am never alone. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I may very well walk through dark seasons, yet God ever sees me as clearly as in those seasons where everything is smooth and light. Considering God's attributes and such qualities as His omnipresence causes us to rise above the smog of circumstances and to see them as He sees them. So much more could be said, however, let us for now just praise God for the fact He is omnipresent.

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