The Transcendence, Immanence, and Faithfulness of God

This entry is part 11 of 16 in the series The Attributes of God

God has revealed Himself to us through His world and His Word. As Romans 1 describes, God’s invisible attributes and divine nature have been clearly perceived through the things He has made. The created order displays His creativity, His power, His grandeur, His transcendence.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge. (
Psalm 19:1–2)

What is profoundly amazing is that the One who holds the galaxies together by the power of His might, the One who is beyond our imagination (transcendent), is also the lover of our souls and is ever near to us (immanent).

God’s Transcendence and Immanence

The prophet Isaiah paints a remarkable picture of the transcendence and immanence of God:

For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15)

The God of heaven and earth is beyond us. He is separate and distinct from the physical world. This is not saying that God is merely physically far removed, for God is spirit, not possessing a physical form at all. God is beyond the universe of matter, space, and time. He’s not confined by the universe, and He’s not part of it as created things are. The created world is subject to Him in all ways.

Despite God’s transcendence, He dwells with “the contrite and lowly of spirit.” He is immanent to the universe in a nontemporal and nonphysical way as the cause of its existence. There is no greater connection than the one God has with His creation as the sustainer of all things, giving breath, life, and being (cf. Acts 17:28; Colossians 1:17). He knows our pains and sorrows, pleasures and joys, triumphs and failures. He sees us as we are and is present to us. 

Recognizing that God is both near and far should humble us. This humility should give way to awe, culminating in a healing fear of God that recognizes His sovereignty and holiness, along with our frailty and need for Him. As the prophet Isaiah cried, 

Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips …
[and] have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5
).

The Faithfulness of God

We, like Isaiah, will also be “ruined” or “undone” in the presence of God apart from His mercy and grace. But God is faithful and just, and He justifies the ungodly through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 4:1–8). He is faithful, and He will not change. He will not act contrary to His nature, and He will fulfill His promises. 

God’s faithfulness gives us hope because, despite our failures, God will guard us, strengthen us, and keep us from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

This study is based on A. W. Tozer’s book The Knowledge of the Holy and J. I. Packer’s Knowing God.

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