By Stephen W. Hiemstra
No description of God would be complete without an understanding of the role of Jesus Christ that starts with God’s transcendent nature. God’s transcendence arises because he created the known universe as revealed in the Genesis creation account:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1)
As creator, God had to exist before the universe that he created and he had to have been set apart from it. Time, as we know it, is part of the created universe. Consequently, God stands outside of time and space. Because we exist inside time and space, we cannot approach God on our own. He has to reveal himself to us. Likewise, we cannot approach a Holy God, because we are sinful beings, not Holy beings. Our sin separates from a Holy God and motivates our confession when we ask God to draw us to himself.
Thus, we cannot approach God on our own because he transcends time and space and because he is holy. Only God can initiate connection with unholy, created beings such as we are. No path reaches up the mountain to God; God must come down. As Christians, we believe that God came down in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, whose coming was prophesied from the earliest days of scripture.
For example, the Prophet Job wrote:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” (Job 19:25-27)
The Book of Job is thought by some to have been written by Moses before any other book in the Bible and before he returned to Egypt, which makes the anticipation of a redeemer all the more stunning. Moses himself lived about 1,500 years before Christ.
Who then is this transcendent God that loves us enough to initiate connection with us in spite of our sin?
Later, after giving Moses the Ten Commandments for a second time on Mount Sinai, God reveals himself to Moses with these words:
“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Exod 34:6)
Notice that God describes himself first as merciful. As Christians, we believe that God love is shown to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because God himself has provided the ultimate sacrifice of his son on the cross, Christians do not need to offer animal sacrifices—in Christ, our debt to God for sin has already been paid. This is real mercy, real love.
Listen now to the confession given by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” (1 Cor 15:3-5)
Jesus, as the perfect son of God, is the bridge that God has given us to connect with himself through the Holy Spirit, as Peter said on the Day of Pentecost:
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to pray to God with the assurance that we will be heard; we are able to read the Bible with the confidence that God will speak to us; and we are able to live our daily lives knowing that God walks with us each step of the way. In this way, as Christians we are always connected with God in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit. The Gospel is accordingly the story of Jesus in the context of Old Testament prophecy and how through him God came down from outside time and space to dwell in our hearts.
The Person of Jesus
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Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.
Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018