One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.(Ephesians 4:6)
God dwells in His creation and is totally everywhere, indivisibly present in all His works. This is boldly taught by prophet and apostle and is accepted by Christian theology generally.
While God dwells in His world, He is separated from it by a gulf forever impassable. However closely He may be identified with the work of His hands, they are and must eternally be other than He, and He is and must be antecedent to and independent of them. He is transcendent above all His works even while He is immanent within them.
What now does the divine immanence mean in direct Christian experience? It simply means that God is here. Wherever we are, God is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not. Ten million intelligences standing in as many points in space and separated by incomprehensible distances can each one say with equal truth, God is here. No point is nearer to God than any other point. It is exactly as near to God from any place as it is from any other place. No one is in mere distance any farther from or any nearer to God than any other person is.
These are truths believed by every instructed Christian. It remains for us to think on them and pray over them until they begin to glow within us.
“In the beginning God.” Not matter, for matter is not self-causing. It requires an antecedent cause and God is that Cause. Not law, for law is but a name for the course which all creation follows. That course had to be planned, and the Planner is God. Not mind, for mind is also a created thing and must have a Creator back of it.
In the beginning, God, the uncaused Cause of matter, mind, and law. There we must begin.
Colossians provides for us an incredible description of God and Christ.
“For He has rescued us and has drawn us to Himself from the dominion of darkness, and has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption [because of His sacrifice, resulting in] the forgiveness of our sins [and the cancellation of sins’ penalty]. He is the exact living image [the essential manifestation] of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible], the firstborn [the preeminent one, the sovereign, and the originator] of all creation. For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, [things] visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [that is, by His activity] and for Him. And He Himself existed and is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. [His is the controlling, cohesive force of the universe.] He is also the head [the life-source and leader] of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will occupy the first place [He will stand supreme and be preeminent] in everything. For it pleased the Father for all the fullness [of deity—the sum total of His essence, all His perfection, powers, and attributes] to dwell [permanently] in Him (the Son), and through [the intervention of] the Son to reconcile all things to Himself, making peace [with believers] through the blood of His cross; through Him, [I say,] whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
The root and foundation of our faith lies in the acceptance that “God is and that He is a rewarder of them who seek Him”. We recognize that it’s hard for finite humans who have a beginning and end and who measure time since they are time constrained, to wrap their minds around a belief or concept of a Being who has no beginning or end, who is unrestrained by time, space or any other restraint. We struggle in believing in One who is so powerful the He has and is creating the universe and all that’s in it and yet can at the same time know the smallest sparrow and care for it and yet He can and does. Many religions intermingle God with His creation. They see creation and God as one and the same, inseparable. The logic of that is flawed. In a natural sense, though a builder’s skill and knowledge may be seen in the building, no one would ever say the builder and the building were the same. We would recognize that the creation is not the same as the creator. How foolish then to believe that the Creator and creation are one and the same.
In Colossians 1 the Apostle Paul opens by telling us that Christ “has rescued us and drawn us to Himself from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His Beloved Son.” We know that when we experience salvation, we go back to the same house we have lived, into the same job we have worked, and we’re still part of the same family we were born into. In the natural, nothing appears to have changed. But, O the change that has occurred in the spiritual realm. No longer are our spirits in darkness, bound by sin and shame. No longer are we slaves to Satan and sin. No longer are we “dead in sin and trespasses” but we now are alive in Christ. When we say we are alive in Christ, we are seeing that death for us has been removed. This is not to say our mortal bodies won’t age and die, but that we as believers live on in eternity and God the Creator will provide us another body to live in that will never suffer the consequences of sin.
Paul further tells us that Christ Jesus is “the firstborn [the preeminent one, the sovereign, and the originator] of all creation. For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, [things] visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [that is, by His activity] and for Him. And He Himself existed and is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. [His is the controlling, cohesive force of the universe.]
He is the “originator of all creation” The very idea, the concept, the planning and the completion of all creation resided in Him. Many thinkers over the years, especially as our understanding of the vastness of the universe have surmised that there must be other life forms somewhere in the ever expanding universe. It’s illogical, they believe that we are the only living planet in the universe. Yet this far with tons of exploration, nothing has made itself known. We struggle to believe that tiny earth hold the living creation of God and yet as Christians we believe that God in the Person of Christ came to this little planet to “rescue us from the dominion of darkness”. For many of us, even Christians, to believe that God is constantly with us and for us and that He loves us and guides us and comforts us is often not believed or at least not believed to its fullest. O struggling one, in the midst of your suffering, doubt, failure and storm, know that God is as close to you as He is anyone else. Know that He hasn’t “removed Himself afar off”. Turn your heart and attention to Him and know that “nothing can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus”. Remember His promise:
“…….for He has said, “ I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say, “ The Lord is my Helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid. What will man do to me ?”
Dr. John Thompson