Tag Archives: ask

Scripture Uses God’s Transcendence to Shove His Nearness In Your Heart

I was re-reading this essay from Vincent below. It struck a chord in my mind because I had recently read a passage of Scripture in Ephesians 3 that said and concluded the same thing.

First the quote from Vincent,

“Those who claim to provide a God-centered theology are often proud of their theological prowess, but in reality their solution is superficial… For this reason, they seem to think that God-centered religion usually stresses God’s transcendence. God himself does not think so. That is not how he presents himself in Scripture. That is not how he tells his own story. A God-centered theology listens to what God says about himself, and in his narrative, he stresses both his transcendence and his immanence.

He could be aloof, but instead he is closer than your own heartbeat. He could forget about you, but instead he counts your hairs. He could let you fend for yourself, but instead he feeds you and heals you, and works miracles for you. He could be too important to have anything to do with you, but instead he wants you to have faith in him and ask from him. He is so spiritual that he does not even have a body, but he promises he will strengthen yours. He is so transcendent that he created the world, but he is so immanent that he walked and talked with Adam. He is so transcendent that he could destroy Sodom, but he is so immanent that he engaged Abraham to negotiate with him. He is so transcendent that he could wipe out Israel, but he is so immanent that he allowed Moses to stand in his way and stop him. This is how he wants you to know him. This is God-centered theology.

I do not say that we should find the right balance, because it is not a matter of balance. It is not a matter of finding the right point on a scale, but a matter of right or wrong doctrine. Jesus was the most God-centered person who ever walked the earth. He was God himself, but more than anyone in Scripture, he was also the one who told us to pray for our needs and ask God for what we want. The “God-centered” people declares, “God is not Santa!” and they think that this is God-centered theology. It is true that God is not Santa, but this is because he is far better than Santa. Jesus said he is our Father, and it is his pleasure to give good gifts to his children. He does not bring us gifts only once a year, but Jesus told us to ask for our daily bread. They say, “God is not a cash machine!” It is true that God is not a cash machine, but this is because you only withdraw your own money from a cash machine. Paul wrote that God supplies all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. This is God-centered theology, because it listens to what God says about himself, rather than shoving divine transcendence back in his face no matter what he says.”
(Vincent Cheung. Faith Override. Sermonettes 9. 2016. Pg. 9-10)

It is obvious that when the Scripture reveals propositional truths and premises about His Transcendence, Sovereignty and Power it is directly revealing truths about them. There is no higher spiritual activity than theological reflection. We are to reflect on the truths about God’s divine nature, including His transcendence.

However, what I wish to focus on is a mistake people make when thinking about His transcendence, and that is the emphasis.  When the bible reveals or emphasizes His Transcendence (and here is the IMPORTANT PART) to His chosen ones, and to those seeking Him in sincerity, what is a common or if not the most common application or consequence or command given in light of this? Think carefully about it.

As Vincent points out in general, God’s interaction and teaching with His children has a focus on His transcendence and nearness. Likewise, even when God speaks of His transcendence to His chosen ones, the emphasis leads to a conclusion of God’s nearness and love.

Paul in Ephesians chapter 3 does exactly this. After talking about the transcendent God who uses His church to show off how manifold His wisdom is to all the powers at be, Paul’s first conclusion is “come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” Then Paul’s next reaction is “when I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray…,” and Paul prays that they will be made strong by His Spirit and love, and they both understand His and also experience His love greatly.

This is how Paul used the doctrine of God’s transcendence in relation for the saints.

And if that was not enough, Paul concludes a third time with this famous statement, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

So, after theological reflection on God’s predestination and grace (chapter 1) and His secret plan revealing how God uses the Church (now made up of gentiles) to show off the transcendent great wisdom of God (for His glory), the application is not to fall on our faces and beg or say self-deprecating statements to impress God with our humility; rather, we are given a true application of humility which is to boldly approach God’s throne and ask, knowing not only will God give us what we ask for, but super abundantly more than that, even beyond what we can image.

This is like Jesus’ teaching on the sermon on the mount but on steroids. Jesus kept commanding us in that sermon to pray and expect to get what we ask for. A fish for a fish, and bread for a bread. Now we are told we will get the bread we ask for and even more bread, not something different, but more of the good things we asked for. God uses His transcendence to shove His love into our hearts, which causes us to trust in His love more, and cause us to have more boldness in asking for what we want.

It is demonic for the religious fanboys to mostly emphasis God’s transcendence to highlight self-deprecation and farness, when Scripture regularly uses God’s sovereignty and transcendence to highlight His nearness to His children and their bold access to Him. If you see God’s transcendence and then feel hesitation to approach God you are acting like an outsider, as if you have no covenant with God. For God’s contracted insiders and children, His power and sovereignty is a motivation to approach boldly, quickly, constantly and with their heads held high.  God’s transcendence for God’s children is motivation to receive what they ask for and then even much more.

“I was chosen to explain to everyone[c] this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.

God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.  This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.  So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen,”
Ephesians 3:9-20

Jesus: “You Have Heard it Said…”

Jesus: You have heard it said,

“if you ask, you might or might not get it, depending on God’s will.”
However, I say to you, “If you ask you will receive, if seek you will find, and if you knock the door will be open.”

Jesus: You have heard it said,

“If you pray God will answer with a ‘yes,’ ‘maybe’ or a ‘no.’”
However, I say to you, “for everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Jesus: You heard it said,

“If you keep asking, and God has not given it to you,  God has answered your prayer with a no.”
However, I say to you, “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.” [1]

Jesus: you have heard it said,

“Even if God answers your prayer, because God is looking out for you, He will often give you something different, but better.”
However, I say to you, “what man is there among you, if his son will ask him for bread, will give him a stone? Or also if he will ask for a fish, will give him a snake? Therefore if you, although you* are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?”

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives,

and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you, if his son will ask him for bread, will give him a stone?

Or also if he will ask for a fish, will give him a snake? Therefore if you, although you* are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him? Matthew 7:7–11 (LEB)

Since it is God’s, and not man’s definition that a “good” God gives you the very thing you ask for, anyone who teaches otherwise is spouting a doctrine of demons. Some bark up like mad dogs that, “what if you ask for something bad?” So what? What does this logically have to do with what I am saying? This is not a relevant point, because James says if you ask God for evil things (“God help me murder this person”), then you are God’s “enemy,” and so prayer is the least of your concerns. Since I am addressing Christians or those who at least claim to be so, and not sworn enemies of God, I will ignore logically non-relevant points.

Jesus says, if you ask in faith you will get what you ask for. Jesus even says this in more than one way, in case we missed it. What Jesus is doing here with prayer, is the same He is doing throughout the “Sermon on the Mount.” You have heard it said “do not murder your brother, but I say to you, do not do it, even in your heart.” When Jesus teaches on judging people, His point presupposes that you are able to judge your brother, and to do it without hypocrisy. You do this by removing the wood from your own eye first. Some morons say, “you cannot judge without hypocrisy or bias”; yet, Jesus contradicts this in His sermon. He teaches the true ethical standard God demands for judging, and He expects His disciples to do it. It is good news to see in the new covenant, God promising to give us ethical power, “I will write my laws in your hearts.”

In this context of Jesus repeatedly correcting the low opinion of people’s thinking on God’s commands and standards, Jesus talks about “prayer and faith.” Thus, when we see Jesus saying, “if you ask God in faith, you get the very thing you ask for,” then we can infer the presupposition behind it, at least in the broad sense; and so, Jesus’ teaching is in opposition to the people’s low opinion of what they think prayer and faith should accomplish. The Jews had a perverted and low view of prayer. From the Mount, Jesus corrects their error and describes the true ethical standard that God commands about faith. Whatever the low valuation of prayer the Jews had, it was not to the standard of, “if you ask in faith, you will get what you ask for.”  Jesus is expecting and demanding, (just like He demands us to not even lust in our hearts after another woman), to pray and get what we pray for.  Jesus in essence says, “You have heard it said, if its God’s will, then you might get what you pray for. But I say to you, if you ask in faith, you will get the very thing you ask for, because God is the good Father.” This is the type of Being we are dealing with. You must deal with Him and not someone else.

Do you know this Jesus?

[1] Luke 7:5-8