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What the Bible says about God's Omnipresence
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Psalm 62:1-12

When a person is in ordinary trouble and needs help, does he not seek out someone who has more of whatever it takes to help him overcome his situation? The need may be as simple as an additional hand or a bit more physical strength, or it could be something more complex like wisdom, a specialized skill, practical expertise, or community influence. The helper's power may simply be that he or she has more experience in the area of need. The need may be legal, so contacting a lawyer is a wise move. If the need is medical, seeing a doctor makes sense. One would consult an auto mechanic if the car needs to be repaired, etc. We frequently seek the powers of others.

Psalm 62 instructs us that the supreme power in all creation is God. In verse 1, David begins to express this fact by saying that from God comes salvation, that He is our Deliverer from trouble, implying that it should be to Him that we run. In verse 2, God is our rock, meaning our foundation and source of stability, who keeps us grounded and free from unreasonable anxieties. He is also our defense; He can deflect attacks in ways humans cannot provide.

Verses 3-4 are said to David's attackers, who were attempting to undermine his reputation before the public while also seeking a way to assassinate him. He warns them that their lies will prove to be their undoing.

In verses 5-7, David turns his attention back to himself, trying to encourage himself by resolving to wait patiently upon God as his only trustworthy hope. In verse 7, he reminds us that God is our glory: We take pride in Him for all that He is. He can give us favor even before those who may be against us. He is our refuge, an unqualified place of safety in any circumstance. In verse 8, he exhorts others - friends, companions, and supporters - urging them to pray because God is a solid place of refuge in our times of trouble.

Five times in this brief, twelve-verse psalm, he exhorts himself or instructs us that God is the only sure place of refuge and of help in times of need. How can God be and do all these things? David names Him as our Rock, Salvation, Defender, Refuge, and Glory. He can hold all these titles because, as David says simply in verse 11, "Power [or strength] belongs to God."

This confronts us with a major reason why God is the only One we can rely on fully in our time of need. Power is not only something God possesses, but when we come to understand it, all power belongs to Him. All power flows from Him, and He gives it to whomever He will. God not only has power as a possession, but He can use it in any situation or distribute it as He sees fit! Who can fight God or gainsay His choice of whom He chooses to give it to? Who has sufficient power to nullify God's doing of anything He desires to accomplish?

Notice that in Psalm 62:11 the word "belongs" is in italics, meaning it was added by the translator. It is not a wrong addition but appropriate. It is as though He owns it; it is His to use and/or distribute as He alone sees fit. It begins to open an awesome thought to consideration: Nobody has power unless God provides it for his use.

Understanding this truth makes David's exhortation in verses 9 and 10 more understandable. Compared to God, men are so puny as to be nothing. They may appear strong on the surface, but with our powerful, trustworthy Resource, we do not have to retaliate stupidly or be overwrought by anxiety.

This powerful Being is on our side by His choice! We have not earned it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part One)

Psalm 139:7-10

The Holy Spirit is the power of God. It is the means through which He accomplishes His will. Verse 7 teaches us a great deal about this. God the Father is a Personality. He is located in one place at one time, just as we are. But His ability to insert Himself into and affect events anywhere in His creation is contained within the power that emanates from His mind.

It is His Spirit—which emanates from His mind—that enables Him to be everywhere all at once, if He so desires. It gives Him the ability to keep track of all of us. It gives Him the ability to be with a person in Charlotte or someone in Los Angeles or another in Chicago. Wherever we are, He can be there because by His mind He is able to concentrate His attention in those areas.

We lack power like that. We have limited imitations of it. We can concentrate our attention in a very limited way on certain things, events, or places. But He can concentrate His attention in many areas at the same time by the spiritual power that emanates from His awesome mind.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit

Psalm 139:7

The psalmist does not really want to flee. He is posing ideas and questions so that we can see that wherever we are, we are always under God's scrutiny. God is a positive spirit. Everything that He creates has positive function and beauty. His intention in everything for us is always positive, right, and good. He does everything in love and concern for our well-being so that we will fit within His purpose, and it will be worked out in our lives. Psalms 139 contains no negative connotations.

From this, because His mind permeates the entirety of His creation, we ought to derive great confidence that God is always with us. He is omnipotent. He is omnipresent. He is actively using His powers, His Spirit, to govern and manage His creation.

The beginning of the source of all power is in the mind. Remember, man is in God's image. A man may make tools to intensify his powers, but the real power is in the mind because without it, he would not be able to create the tool that expands his powers.

God's Holy Spirit is the essence of His mind. Just like a man, His power resides there too, only He does not have to use steam shovels and power tools to get things done. He speaks, and the laws He has created go to work. The tool by which He carries everything out is His Spirit, the essence of His mind.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Right Use of Power

Psalm 145:18

The question is, "How near?" This question has to be asked because many times we feel that God has gone way off somewhere. But how near is He? We have to ask this because the Bible describes Him as a God who is both far and near; He is both at the same time.

He is far in recognition of His sovereignty and of His position in relation to the rest of the creation. He is far above us in that regard. He is over all and directs and controls everything, always with His overall purpose in mind.

If we desire to have a good relationship with God, we will have to take this last factor into consideration, because it affects our lives. He does everything with His overall purpose in mind. There are occasions when He may be "unable" to act in our behalf on one of our requests of Him, because other people's situations whose lives touch on ours must be resolved first. A clear example of this is the book of Job.

Job was totally unaware of what was being worked out through, around, and about him. Even Satan was having something proved to him by God, because He challenged him. In the vernacular of today, God said to the Devil, "Okay, Satan. See if you can break Job. I challenge you to see if you can break him."

Satan could not break Job. The man stood his ground, even though he got battered mightily in the process, not really understanding what was happening. He undoubtingly appealled to God, but He could not answer because other things were being worked out through, around, and about in Job, of which he was totally unaware.

Job was not privy to the conversation between God and Satan, nor to the fact that God was putting him through this in order that a book be written of his experiences, which could not be written until the episode had resolved. So Job had to go through a great deal of discomfort, pain, and emotional anguish while the whole situation played out. For a while, God was a God from afar.

Now that we have more understanding, and the Bible is complete, we realize that He was also a God who was near because He strengthened Job so that he could resist the temptations of the most powerful being to tempt mankind. Job stood up just fine.

Because this book has been written, and because Job endured this, we now have a clear picture why, at times, bad things happen to good people. We can also see that this book of Job shows that God has faith in us too. It does not work just one way. God was working from afar, with His overall picture in mind for mankind, and God was also working nearby.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 6)

Isaiah 30:1

"Spirit" is ruach, and it is used in the sense of invisible force or power. Thus ruach, depending on the context, is used to express intelligence, will, truth, hope, faith, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, omnipotence, omnipresence, infinity, invisibility, or holiness. These words are different from those in reference to God's soul (see Leviticus 26:11), which had to do mostly with feelings, with emotional qualities. Here ruach covers aspects that have to do with mind power.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)

Daniel 4:35

The Bible declares quite clearly that God is not only well aware of what is taking place, but He also has the power, wisdom, and love to either stop it at any time or let it run its course. In fact, Scripture plainly shows God actively—indeed proactively, not merely permissively—involved in earthly matters. God has not gone "way off somewhere," letting things simply proceed naturally.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Is God to Blame?

Matthew 10:27-28

It is not unreasonable that we should fear God. Jesus Christ Himself says that we are to fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. Why? He is the only One who can revoke the judgment of Gehenna fire. The wages of sin is death in Gehenna fire. If we want to escape this punishment, we can see that it is closely connected to whether or not we actually fear God.

Why? What does the fear of God have to do with escaping a judgment that would otherwise take us into the Lake of Fire?

This series of verses in Matthew 10 contains some encouragement, indicating that, if one really fears God, then there is no need to be fearful of others. Proverbs 29:25 plainly tells us, "The fear of man is a snare." This is an attitude in which we do not want to be entrapped. It is obvious, in the context of Matthew 10:27, that He is talking about fear in the sense of "dread." We are not to fear men because the worst that they can do does not even begin to match the worst that God can do! The basis for this is what God is: omnipotent and omniscient, and in Him are the issues of life and death!

The Christian life is our calling; this is our only chance for salvation. We have been personally chosen by God. The elect are an insignificant number, and we are even more insignificant personally. Yet, He has given us this calling. The world population is somewhere in the vicinity of six billion people, and out of this huge number are a miniscule few who are truly converted and have been given the Spirit of God. This is not something that we want to pass up! The fear of God is crucial to our salvation!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God

Matthew 10:29

This is an astounding statement, considering the size of the earth and the number and relative insignificance of birds! But God's exercising of His will in working out His magnificent purpose is far greater because in this He is not dealing with irrational creatures but rational men in His image. Unlike birds, men have free moral agency and sufficient powers to form conclusions and set their wills to go their own way.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Five

Matthew 10:29-30

God does everything perfectly and with wisdom and love. He did not carelessly call us. We are not nonentities swallowed up in the vastness of humanity. Matthew 10:29-30 assures us that God's sovereignty is not limited to just big issues; He superintends even the tiniest details. Each of us is so valuable He gave His Son for us. Thus, we need not fear that He will overlook us as we struggle with life. However, we do need to consider much more deeply how valuable our conduct and attitude are to the entirety of the church.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Little Things Count!

Matthew 10:29-30

God deemed this promise important enough to repeat in Luke 21:18, where the only difference is the context in which Jesus uses the illustration. There He promises that God will closely watch over us during periods of persecution. The scope of God's attentive care of His creation is so great that even an insignificant sparrow cannot die without Him being aware and approving that such a thing should happen. How awesome!

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part One)

2 Corinthians 7:3

Are the Corinthians actually inside of Paul's beating heart? Of course not. Paul is saying that the Corinthians were in union within him, that he felt in union with them. Why? Because Paul raised up the church there. Paul knew them. He had preached to them the gospel by which they were converted. He had probably counseled them for baptism, though he baptized only the household of Stephanas and a few others.

He had pastored that congregation from the very beginning and was familiar with the people as personalities. He had eaten with them in their homes. He had likely conducted some wedding ceremonies, maybe even some funerals as well. He had preached countless sermons and Bible studies to those people. He had experienced walking in the marketplace with them. Perhaps he had even experienced some persecution with them. He had sung with them, maybe cried with them. He had laid hands on them when they were sick.

Thus, Paul was in union with these Corinthians because he had experienced life with them. So whether he was in Jerusalem or in Spain—even if he had gone to Britain—wherever Paul went, he carried with him the memories of those associations and experiences. When one of their names came to mind because it was mentioned in a letter that somebody sent to him, he immediately thought of the person, and it was almost as if they were right there with them. It was probably so real that Paul said to himself, "I wish I could reach out and touch them and help them."

Are we beginning to understand how God can be, as it were, everywhere at once? We can grasp it because we carry Him wherever we are. And it does not matter where He is either; He carries us with Him wherever He is. The seed of this remarkable, intimate union has been conceived within us because God initiated it, and we responded to it.

Of course, His powers are much greater than ours, and He can focus those powers on us as an individual personality if He so desires. Even as we can be aware of what is going on inside a small, contained area, the powers of His eyes and ears, of His mind, of His creative force and energy are so great that He is aware of anything at any time regardless of distance.

However, what He is really striving for in our lives is for us to be able to be aware of His presence wherever we go, because that is what is vital to our salvation and to our lives right now and the character that is being built in us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 4)


 




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