STUDY THIRTEEN: THE GOD WHO DRAWS NEAR
© Rosemary Bardsley 2007, 2016
Through the history of the church men have discussed the transcendence of God and the immanence of God.
We must be careful not to see these two aspects of God as contradictory and mutually exclusive. It is not that God is either one or the other: God is both. We do not really have any choice about which God we worship, or which of these two attributes we focus on, for it is the Almighty transcendent God whom we also know as the God who draws near to us.
If the god we experience in personal prayer and worship is not also the Almighty, the majestic sovereign Lord, the Holy One, then our god is not God at all, but a poor substitute created by our own personal subjective experience.
In this post modern culture in which all concept of absolute, objective truth has been jettisoned, we must be careful that we do not allow personal, subjective experiences of God to redefine God and override that absolute objective truth about God that he has revealed once-and-for-all.
As we saw in an earlier study, God has revealed himself in Creation, in the written Word, and in the incarnation of his Son, Jesus Christ, which is also included in the written Word. God is a self-revealing God. He is a God who speaks.
And here we have a problem:
God’s self-revelation in Creation is accessible to every human being: but not all human beings see and know God by looking at creation.
God’s self-revelation in the Bible is accessible to many: but not all who read it see and know God in its message.
God’s self-revelation in the incarnate Christ was displayed in physical form to the Jews of Jesus’ day: but only a very small number knew God by knowing Christ; and it is displayed in written and spoken form in the Scripture and through the Church, but again, not all who read and hear believe in God because of it.
The multitude of religions, cults and religious philosophies in the world are obvious testimony of the inadequacy of each of the above, left to themselves, to bring a person to clear and accurate knowledge of God.
There is another factor in God’s self-revelation: that God himself draws near and personally, individually, opens our eyes to see and know him, breathes life into the deadness and unresponsiveness of our souls, and reunites us to himself.
Karl Barth comments: ‘That this actually takes place, is the work of the Holy Spirit, the work of God on earth … When it happens that a man obtains that freedom of becoming a hearer, a responsible, grateful, hopeful person, this is not because of an act of the human spirit, but solely because of the act of the Holy Spirit. So this is, in other words, a gift of God. It has to do with a new birth, with the Holy Spirit.’ [p 140, Dogmatics in Outline]
This final module thus looks specifically at work of the third person of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit of God.
Rather than repeat what is provided elsewhere on this website, the following links provide study material on three aspects of God drawing near:
The Spirit of God and Revelation: Section D in this study: http://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/the-holy-spirit/492-the-holy-spirit-is-god.html
The Spirit of God and Salvation: http://www.godswordforyou.com/bible-studies/the-holy-spirit/497-the-holy-spirit-and-salvation-sp-1152726949.html
The Spirit of God and Sanctification: These two studies: