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For Bible Study Nerds

“Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Jesus’ comment, recorded in Matthew 6:4, is an affirmation of the related ideas that God is both everywhere and all-knowing. Theologians call these concepts “omnipresence” (or “immanence”) and “omniscience.” So what do they mean?

Omnipresence, in its most practical sense, simply means that all of God is everywhere at all times. It is both his necessity and his nature to exist completely in every space at any time. Or as theologian Michael Horton says, omnipresence is “God’s transcendence of time and place.”

We must be aware, though, that although God himself fills all of creation, he is not spread out through his creation. His immensity doesn’t dictate that only parts of him are present in any particular place or space or moment or hour. Rather, “he is present in every place because he transcends spatial categories…[and] God’s transcendence of time is the very presupposition of his presence in every creaturely moment.” (See Jeremiah 23:23-24, Psalm 139:7-8, Proverbs 15:3, Matthew 28:20, Acts 17:27-28.)

Nor is God’s omnipresence a passive or inert existence. Jesus is very clear that the Father “sees what is done” (Matthew 6:4), indicating an active, accurate, intelligent understanding of every place and every moment in our universe. This is called “Omniscience.”

“By the omniscience of God,” theologian Henry Thiessen explains further, “we mean that He knows Himself and all other things, whether they be actual or merely possible, whether they be past, present, or future, and that He knows them perfectly and from all eternity. He knows them immediately, simultaneously, exhaustively and truly.” (See Psalm 139:1-4, Matthew 10:29-30, Hebrews 4:13.)

Thus, when Jesus reprimanded his hearers for seeking human admiration while they gave to the poor, he did more than just point out a social or religious wrong. Christ reminded us that we all (individually and corporately) are constantly, irrevocably acting within the intelligent, active presence of our awesome, omnipresent, omniscient Creator—and his attention should be more than enough for anyone.

 

Works Cited:

[CHF, 254-255; LST, 124-125]

 

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