God is present everywhere, as we learned last week. But one of the distinguishing traits of His people is that He is present in us as well!
“Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.”
- Jeremiah 23:23–24
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Transcript: Hi, welcome to Five Minutes With Pastor Lutzer. I’m so glad that you joined us today, as we continue our study on the attributes of God—the marvelous attributes of God. Today we are studying the omnipresence of God; the fact that God is fully and totally everywhere-present, even to the limits and beyond the limits, if that’s the way we can speak of the whole universe.
The text of Scripture I have in mind is the 23rd chapter of Jeremiah, and I’m picking it up at verse 23: “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in a secret place so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.” Omnipresence—God fully present everywhere.
Now this is true only of God. It’s certainly not true of us, and it’s not even true of Satan. Some people think that the devil is omnipresent. He seems to be everywhere. Well, he’s not. If the devil is in Japan today, he’s not in America; and if he’s here in Chicago, he’s not in Detroit. Now he may be able to travel very quickly, but the fact is that the devil can only be in one place at one time. The reason he appears to be omnipresent is because he has so many demonic spirits who are doing his work for him, and under his direction.
But only God fills heaven and earth. That means that God cannot be confined to a temple. Solomon understood this when he built the big temple in Jerusalem. He said, “The heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that I have built!” Nor can God be confined to a church. He cannot be confined, of course, to a localized place. He cannot be confined to a country. He cannot be confined to a statue or an icon.
Many years ago I brought a famous Catholic cardinal here to The Moody Church, who wanted to see the architecture of this beautiful church. And he said, “No holy water, no statues, no icons, no crosses?” I pointed out that I had no objection to a church having a cross as long as it does not become a place where people think it has some magical power.
But I said to him, “This actually represents our theology. We believe that God works directly in the human heart through the Word, and in response to understanding and faith, and that these objects actually oftentimes become a stumbling block.” That’s why God said very clearly, “Make no graven image.” No image of God. And of course, people oftentimes bow before these kinds of images.
Now there’s one point of clarification I need to make. One of the distinguishing marks of the people of God is the presence of God, so that on one hand God exists everywhere as we have learned from numerous texts of Scripture. But He is, in a sense, localized among His people. Theologians distinguish this, and they call it “the manifest presence of God.”
That is where God reveals Himself, perhaps through miracles. Usually not the kind of miracles that we think about, but through the conviction of sin, through the salvation of people, through the love that He shares and sheds abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. In this way God has a unique relationship with His people. And in Old Testament times God said, “There is a place where I am localized,” and that’s of course where they offered various sacrifices.
But Jesus said this in the fourth chapter of John, to the woman at the well. He said, “You know, your fathers say that you worship in this mountain, Mount Garrison, and of course the Jews say that it is Jerusalem where people should worship.” But Jesus said to her, “Woman, the day is coming when neither in Jerusalem nor this mountain will they worship the Father, but they worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”
So if you’re a believer today, you not only enjoy the omniscience and the omnipresence of God who is everywhere, but you have a unique relationship with Him through Jesus Christ our Lord, and that means that He is with us all the time, even at the point of death. A number of years ago, a man said to me, “My mother died;” he said, “and she was in the apartment all alone. And no one had checked on her, and she had been dead for several days before her body was found.” He was grieved because she died alone. And I reminded him of the fact that even though she was alone in the apartment, in the sense that no one was with her, God was there. The omnipresence of God with His people, not just on this side of the curtain of death, but on the other side of the curtain.
God walks with us the entire journey. Wherever you find yourself today, God is there. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” Through Christ we can experience the presence of God in our lives every single day, even in the most heartbreaking moments.
Thanks so much for joining us today, and I hope that you’ll be with us next time. And today, go with God.