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Doctrine of God - Omnipresence Print E-mail
The Doctrine of God
Sunday, 09 March 2008

I.  Introduction:

 My question for this week: Is God here?  The obvious answer to that question is yes, so let me offer a follow up question: how do you know that God is here?  The answer to this question could be a little less obvious.  Or what about this question: if we say that God is here (Trinity Baptist Church in Sikeston, MO), how can we say that He is at any other Church tonight?  One of the main reasons we know that God is here is because we believe that God is everywhere.  We answer both of the above questions with the same truth, namely God’s omnipresence.  We believe that there is nowhere that God is not.  Tonight we will be considering the truth that God is at all places at all times.

II.  Baptist Faith and Message:

 God’s omnipresence is not directly mentioned in the B, F, and M.  Yet, a number of the statements imply that He is in all places at all times.  For example in the general section it tells us that He is ‘spiritual’ in His being, which implies no limitations of space.  ‘His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future,’ demands that He be present among all things at all times.  Likewise, in the statement on God the Father, it states that He ‘reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace.’  This phrase also implies that God is present in all places at all times.  Thus, the implication of God’s omnipresence seems clear.

III.  Passages:

 A.  1 Kings 8:27 This is part of Solomon’s dedication of the temple.  He recognizes that if the heavens and the earth cannot contain the Lord, then the temple will not be able to contain Him either.  God will meet with His people in the temple, just as He meets with us as we come together to worship (see below on ‘manifest presence’), but He cannot be contained by anything we could build.

 B.  Psalm 139:7-10 This passage is the most often associated with the doctrine of God’s omnipresence.  David says clearly that there is nowhere that he can go to get away from the presence of God.  As we said last week concerning God’s omniscience, God’s omnipresence can be a good thing and a bad thing.  There is nowhere to go to hide from Him.  Thus, instead of running from Him, through the gospel we should be running toward Him (see below).  By His grace, we do not have to hide and we can take comfort in the fact that He is always there as David speaks of in this psalm.

 C.  Jeremiah 23:23-24 God is addressing the false prophets through Jeremiah and makes it clear to them that they will not get away with their lies.  They are telling the people that everything will be fine even though they are disregarding God and His Word.  Thus, the Lord reminds them that He cannot be fooled or hidden from.  He is everywhere and He knows everything.  Once again we see the positive and negative side to God’s omnipresence (positive for Jeremiah and the faithful few, negative for the false prophets and those who listen to them).

 D.  Amos 9:1-4 This is one of the more disturbing passages about God’s omnipresence.  Through the prophet Amos God is warning Israel that when His judgment comes, there will be no place to hide.  If they go down to Sheol or up to heaven, He will find them.  If they go to the top of Mount Carmel or to the bottom of the sea, He will find them.  Even if they try to hide by going into captivity, the Lord will be there.  In other words, there is nowhere to go where He is not there.

 E.  Acts 17:24-28 Paul is speaking in the midst of the Areopagus about the Lord and He begins by telling them that the true God created the heavens and the earth and continues to fill them with His presence, for he is actually not far from each one of us.  As we have seen before, He cannot be contained in a building built by men, for His presence covers all.  A person does not have to go to a certain place to find Him because He is everywhere, in all places.

 F.  Colossians 1:17 Paul is describing the greatness of Christ.  He tells us that in him all things hold together.  Thus, we can say that God is present everywhere and that everywhere is present in Christ, for they are held together in Him.  Again, this teaching implies the omnipresence of God.  There is nowhere where He is not.

IV.  Implications:

 A.  As we have seen over and over again in these passages, we believe that God is everywhere.  We cannot hide from Him.  We cannot get away from His presence.  No matter where we are or what our circumstances are, He is there.  For the record, we should make a distinction here between belief in omnipresence (God is everywhere in the universe) and pantheism (God is the universe).  Many have taught and believe that God and the universe cannot really be distinguished.  Thus, I pick up a rock and say that it is God, or at least a part of God.  We hear similar statements when people say things like: ‘God is part of us all and therefore we are all gods.’  This is not pantheism per se, but the two seem to be connected.  Yet, we believe that God is indeed everywhere, but He is completely distinct from His creation.  In fact, the distinction should be this clear: everything created (which is all things other than God) and the Creator, who is indeed present everywhere.  Likewise, the doctrine of God’s omnipresence helps us avoid the error of thinking too much about certain places, like this Church building.  We should be thankful for the facilities that God has given us and we should be good stewards of them (whatever that involves), but Paul makes it clear that God does not live in temples made by man (Acts 17:24).  Thus, if we did not have these facilities, we could still come before the Lord in worship or if we decided to worship somewhere else (like in the park) we do not have to fear that God is limited to this building.  No, the Bible tells us that He is everywhere and that we can worship Him anywhere (see John 4:21-24).

 B.  Is God ever more present?  Are there ever times when He makes His presence more known?  Our experience may answer yes, but does the Bible agree.  I think it does.  For example, in Exodus 25:22, the Lord is giving instructions for the building of the ark and He tells Moses: There I will meet with you…  Likewise, we see a number of other places in God’s dealings with Moses and Israel where He manifests His presence to Moses (Mount Sinai, the tabernacle).  Likewise, even though we know that God is everywhere, Jesus teaches that He will especially be with His people.  Look at John 14:23.  He will make His home with us.  Thus, we experience what others have called His manifest presence among us.  How does this come about?  As with most things, it involves God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.  We are called to know and believe and be aware of God’s presence, or as Brother Lawrence put it, we are to ‘practice the presence of God.’  This plays a part in God’s manifest presence (see also Genesis 28:16).  He tells us that He inhabits our praise (Psalm 22:3) and that He will be with us in times of discipline and correction (Matthew 18:20).  Thus, we should believe and be aware of His presence.  Yet, it should be noted that He is sovereign over the manifestations of His presence as well.  In John 3:8, Jesus is teaching about the Spirit and He says that He is like the wind, which blows where it wishes.  There are times when the Lord sees fit to make His presence more manifest.  Yet, it should not discourage us when this does not happen, but only cause us to long for it more, believe that He is always there, and trust in His sovereignty over His manifest presence.

V.  Christ and the Cross

 The greatest manifestation of the presence of God was in Christ, who was God in the flesh.  He came and dwelt among us to walk the lonely road to Calvary.  Because it was God the Son who died on the cross, we can be sure that He knows what it is like to suffer and face terrible difficulties.  His presence in those times can be a sweet balm to our souls.  We may indeed get lonely, but we are never alone.  As Rich Mullins sang: “There’s bound to come some trouble to your life, but reach out to Jesus and hold on tight cause He’s been there before, He knows what its like, and you’ll find He’s there.”1  Likewise, since we have considered some of the passages that speak of the negative side of God’s omnipresence, we should note that it is the cross and what Jesus accomplished there on our behalf that give us confidence to boldly come into the presence of God without the fear of judgment (see Hebrews 10:19-25).  Thus, may we marvel at the fact that Christ has cleared the way for us to rejoice and find great strength in the truth that our God is always there, He is always present.  May we pray with Tozer:  “O God and Father, I repent of my sinful preoccupation with visible things.  The world has been too much with me.  Thou hast been here and I knew it not.  I have been blind to Thy presence.  Open my eyes that I may behold Thee in and around me.  For Christ’s sake.  Amen.” 2
1 Taken from the song, ‘Bound to Come Some Trouble’ on his album Songs 2.
2 A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1993), p. 64-65.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 March 2008 )

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