Studying the attributes of God is an important endeavor for the Christian disciple.  A. W. Tozer was a brilliant theologian and pastor of the twentieth century. In his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, he presented a thesis statement that signifies the importance of addressing the issue of theology. He wrote:

What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.

If your concept of God is incorrect, your devotion will be misguided.  We must adhere to a biblical theology that embraces correct doctrine on the identity and activity of God.  Attributes of God are the foundational beliefs about who God is and what he is like that comes from Scripture.  You can’t worship a God fully if you only know Him partially.

Some people differentiate between God’s attributes:

  • Communicable attributes are those which he “shares” with humanity.
  • Incommunicable attributes are those that only God can possess.
  • In my opinion, I believe that all of God’s attributes are incommunicable compared to me.
  • God is completely other than me.

One attribute that is critically important to our discipleship is the immanence of God.  The reason this attribute is so essential is that we have accepted an unhealthy sense of remoteness from God.

The Video-Screen God

In every arena of our culture, we have grown more accustomed to watching leaders speak to crowds from screens.  While we can see the leader, there is this understanding that the leader can’t see us.  And due to the height of his popularity, we know there is a limited chance to ever get to know the one who inspires us so.

Somehow this approach sneaks into our theology.  With the great number of needs and the immense responsibilities that God has, we tend to think that He is too busy and we are too insignificant to gain an audience with Him.  We do not serve a detached God with an arsenal of bodyguards protected within a gated community.

The Immanence of God

The immanence of God means that God is close to us.  The term actually means “remaining in” creation.  God is not uninterested in our situation or detached from our lives.   While God is present among creation, He remains distinct from creation.

From Genesis to Revelation, a common scriptural thread is the promise that God is with us.  While Scripture contains numerous divine promises, the greatest promise of God is the presence of God.  While sin separated us from the presence of God, the grand narrative of the Bible describes the work of Jesus as reuniting us back to God in Paradise.

The Bible is full of reminders about the immanence of God: Ps. 139:7-10; Job 12:10; Acts 17:25, 28; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; Eph. 4:6; Deut. 34:10; Luke 12:6.

IF God is Near, Why Does He Seem Far?

If the presence of God is promised, then why is the sense of His presence lacking?  Why don’t we experience the immanence of God more regularly?

  1. Unconfessed Sin – We can’t experience the presence of God fully when we treasure sin more.
  2. Incorrect Doctrine – A failure to accept this doctrine will result in divine distance.
  3. Troubling Circumstances – Every trial will either bring you closer to God or further from God.
  4. Contented Remoteness – Too many of us have accepted that abiding intimacy is too far from our grasp.
  5. Negligent Effort – It’s hard to get closer to God if we aren’t making any attempts to do so.

Travis Agnew is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is What God Has Joined Together.