First Mennonite Church
October 19, 2014
The Attributes of God: His Omnipresence and Omniscience
Text: Psalm 139:1-12
When theologians speak about the attributes of God they often refer to two kinds of God’s attributes: His communicable attributes and His incommunicable attributes. God’s communicable attributes are those that God shares with his people: his love, compassion, righteousness, justice, etc. But then there are other attributes of God that He only can have: His eternity, His Otherness (holiness), His omnipresence, His omniscience, His omnipotence, and His immutability. Some find seven incommunicable attributes of God, while others find more.
Today I want to talk about the omnipresence of God. We should also realize that closely related to God’s attribute of omnipresence is His omniscience. If God is present everywhere, God also knows what is there. The text for this morning is a clear testimony of that truth. God is present everywhere! Yes, His presence fills the universe. God is omnipresent!
Psalm 139 begins by acknowledging God’s omniscience. God knows it all. The psalmist admits that God has searched him and has found in him everything there is in his life. The Lord knows of his whereabouts, his thoughts, intentions and words even before the word is uttered. “Such knowledge is so wonderful to me,” declares the psalmist.
It is indeed a fascinating thought to know that God knows our every move. Knowing that God knows our whereabouts and everything going on in our mind can give us a sense of security. God is keeping track of everywhere I go. God is familiar with everything I do. On the other hand, the knowledge that God sees me at all times can be a scary thought if I am going the wrong places and doing the wrong things. If that were my case, then I would prefer God not to be an omnipresent and omniscient God.
The God of the Bible and the God Jesus revealed to us is an omnipresent God.
And where God’s presence is acknowledged the world changes; the life of those who acknowledged the presence of God was changed. Think of Moses who could not resist God when He appeared in the burning bush. When God told Moses He was present in the burning bush and that Moses was standing on holy ground, Moses hid his face and was terrified. He left his flock and went back to Egypt, the place he had fled from (Exodus 3). Moses was transformed from a fugitive to a great liberator.
Remember Jeremiah who could not find more excuses to avoid God’s calling. He said to God, “Lord, why me? I am too young to go and tell your words to this violent people.” And what did the Lord say to Jeremiah?
“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord (1:17-19).
You also know the case of Isaiah who could not resist God when he saw the Lord lofty and high seated upon the throne. In fact Isaiah rushed towards God and said, “Here I am, send me.” Isaiah left the comforts of the royal palace and went out to proclaim both hope and judgment from God.
Remember Paul. He was an ardent persecutor of the church of Christ but when the presence of the risen Christ met him, Paul’s life experienced a 180 degree turn around. He could not resist the presence of the risen Christ. He cried, “Who are you, Lord?” The light of Christ struck down Paul not only from the horse he was riding on, but also from the lofty life of an admired Pharisee become a servant of Christ.
My dear friend, we cannot be in the presence of God Almighty and keep being our old selves. We cannot be in the presence of God and not be changed. We cannot be in the presence of God without being transformed into closer likeness of Christ his Son. That is what Paul meant when he said: And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image from glory to glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2Corinthians 3:18).
But how can we experience the transforming presence of God in our lives? How can that happen?
Let us take our cues from the psalmist. Psalm 139 is a prayer in which the psalmist admitted that God has searched him. The psalmist was convinced that nothing escapes the knowledge and presence of God. But the psalmist was not satisfied to know that God knows him, and so he prayed:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (23, 24).
The psalmist wanted to experience God in a very personal and intimate way. He wanted God to examine his heart and mind. He wanted God to hunt down any offensive way there could be hidden in his life. The psalmist invited, in fact, pleaded with God to thoroughly examine his life.
This is how we must begin. We will only be transformed by this omniscient God when we invite Him to search every hidden or secret room of our heart and mind. This otherwise transcendent attribute of God will mean nothing to us until we experience His meticulous and intimate examination of our heart and mind.
My dear friends, God will not pry into your life if you do not freely invite him to do so, even when he knows everything there is. God cannot change your life, if you are not aware change is needed. And who is better to know us than God? That is why we need to pray like the psalmist: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me!
I want to invite you to try it. Invite God to search your heart and your mind. You will find a peace that surpasses all understanding. You will find freedom as you had never known before. You will experience grace, abundant grace and love from the heart of the Father. And then you will be able to confess like the psalmist did:
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain (v. 5, 6).
Transformation will begin to take place. The glory of Christ will start manifesting in your life. And you will not only know that God is all-knowing, but most importantly—you will know that He knows you and you know Him!
God is present everywhere.
God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. He fills the universe with his presence. But again, just as it is with his knowledge, his presence has to be experienced in the intimacy of our heart and spirit. But because of our fallen nature, we human beings do not desire to be in or to seek the presence of God. In fact we are not capable on our own to handle the presence of God. We can only come before God’s presence when He has prepared us to be in his holy presence. We can only come before the presence of God when we respond to his call. Regardless of the fact that God fills the universe and is everywhere, a personal encounter with God and a personal relationship with Him are the means by which we experience God as omnipresent. And today God is inviting us through the words of the prophet Jeremiah. You will seek me and [you will] find me when you seek me with all your heart,” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13). Jesus preached the very same message when he said: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). The presence of God is everywhere, yet in order for us to experience it we must seek His face in fervent prayer. We must go to our knees and cry out to God to reveal himself to us. Jeremiah and Jesus tell us that we must seek with all our heart and we will find God. Now is an opportune moment to hear the words of Isaiah who said:
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon (Isaiah 55:6, 7).
Now is the time for you and me to seek the Lord. We will find him! He is near each of us, but we must seek his face with all of our heart and we will find him. Now is the time when we should run over to God and seek His face, for a day will come when men will want to run away from God but they will not be able to escape his fearsome presence.
My dear friends, the church is the people who should know God and to whom God has revealed himself through Christ. We should be a people marked by the presence of God. We should be the people that are known for being in the presence of God. We are the people where God’s presence is real because to whomever God reveals himself, change happens. God’s transformation in our lives should be the most evident testimony that you and I live in the presence of the omnipresent and omniscient God.
Let us seek God in prayer. Let us make it our goal to know nothing but the power of Christ and of his resurrection, as Paul says. Let us allow God to search us and transform us. And let me close with the words of Paul:
Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God (1Corinthian 8:2 & 3). Amen!