We might be like God in some ways. After all, God made us in his image (Genesis 1:26-27).

But God is most certainly not like us. God is more than us. He is greater than us. God transcends us.

The meaning of transcendence is that God is not merely a quality of nature or of humanity; he is not simply the highest human being. He is not limited to our ability to understand him. His holiness and goodness go far beyond, infinitely beyond ours, and this is true of his knowledge and power as well.

Millard Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 81.

God is other.

It is the supremacy of God’s otherness, holiness, greatness, glory that should drive us to humility and worship.

God is not the “man upstairs,” or the “eye in the sky.” That God transcends us points to God as Creator, Lord, and Sovereign.

Scripture affirms the idea of transcendence.

God is not man, that he should lie,
    or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
    Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Numbers 23:19

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Isaiah 6:1-5

“As I looked, thrones were placed,
    and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
    and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
    its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
    and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
    and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
    and the books were opened.

Daniel 7:9-10

These passages are just a sampling of the biblical affirmation of God’s transcendence. God is above and beyond us in every way imaginable.

The fact of God’s transcendence should humble us. If you’ve been reading these word of the week posts for any length of time, you may have noticed a theme. Theology that gives us an accurate picture of God and of ourselves rightly humbles us.

The fact of God’s transcendence should lead us to worship. God is great, other, glorious. The more we recognize and reflect on the transcendent God of the Bible, the more we will sense the need to worship and adore God in our attitudes and actions.

So, pause a moment (or more) and consider the greatness and glory of the transcendent God of the Bible. Join us next week as we reflect on the complimentary theme of God’s immanence.

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

Nearly every sermon I preach God convicts or corrects me. And this week’s sermon was no different. In 1 Peter 4:12-19, Peter connected suffering to glory. Specifically, Peter noted that when we share in Christ’s sufferings we share in his glory.

In preparing this sermon, I referenced a statement in Jerry Bridges’ book The Joy of Fearing God.

Lord, I am willing 
To receive what You give; 
To lack what You withhold; 
To relinquish what You take; 
To suffer what You inflict; 
To be what You require; 
And to do what You send me to do.

Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God, p. 246.

As I read that statement in each sermon this week, I thought about it. After the sermon, I reflected on it. And after reflection, God is using this statement to question me about my spiritual life.

Am I willing to receive whatever God gives, good or bad? Job suffered and received from the Lord good and bad. Job questioned, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:9)

Am I willing to lack what God doesn’t give? Paul was content with little or with much, in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11).

Am I willing to let go of what God takes, even if that means provision or certainty? God took Joseph away from his family and allowed him to become a slave and prisoner in Egypt for redemptive purposes (Genesis 50:20).

Am I willing experience suffering and difficulty at the hand of the Lord? Christ suffered for our salvation and understood it to be the declaration of God’s glory (John 17:5).

Am I willing to be transformed and made obedient to Christ? The aim of God’s work in our lives is to make us obedient and transform us into the very image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

Am I willing to go where God sends me on mission? God’s mission for his people is that we would make disciples of our neighbors and the nations (Matthew 18:18-20).

God has used this statement and these questions to reaffirm my purpose for living. I am not to live for myself, for my comfort, or for my sake. I do not exist for me. As a follower of Jesus, I should accept God’s good gifts as well as his difficult ones. As a follower of Jesus, I should be content with little or much. As a follower of Jesus, I should relinquish what God may take from me. As a follower of Jesus, I should embrace suffering and difficulty as a means of sharing in the wonders of God’s glory. As a follower of Jesus, I should seek transformation into the image of Christ. As a follower of Jesus, I should go to my neighbors and the nations seeking to lead them to become followers of Jesus.

I exist for God and for his glory.

The simple fact is, you are not the point of your life. You are not the star of your show. If you live for yourself, your own comfort, your own glory, your own fame, you will miss out on your very purpose. God created you to bring glory to him.

Tim Challies, Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, p. 11.

The application of my own sermon this week for me is this:

  • I am going to live in submission to God. He’s in charge, not me. So I’m going to bow my will, seek him first, obey his commands, and trust his sovereignty in my life.
  • I am going to live on his mission for his glory seeking to lead others to follow Jesus. So I’m going to be intentional in my prayers, conversations, plans, and trips to lead others to follow Jesus.