Family Member Funeral Closing Prayer

God of the ages … God of the living and of those who are alive in Christ we thank you for your sovereignty in the giving of life and your sovereignty in the taking of life. We thank you that because of the finished work of Jesus Christ that those whose lives you take are taken to the end of resting from their work you set them apart for while in this life.

We thank you, Father, that the sting of death does not have the final word but that because of Christ’s resurrection we have the certainty that we will be gathered again with the saints who have gone before and who now live in your presence.

We thank you for the Gospel — the promises of God — wherein the penalty of our sin was borne by Christ thereby ensuring the promise of your acceptance of us for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ as our Surety.

We thank you for the life and times of Karen. We thank you for how she fulfilled your purposes. We thank you for the gift she was to her parents upon her birth. We thank you for the blessing she was to Tommy and all of her family through the decades. We thank you that in your infinite wisdom you have gathered her to yourself and all the saints. We thank you for the promise that a time is coming when the circle shall be unbroken.

We ask now for your comfort for Tommy and for the whole family. Grant us grace to grieve, but not to grieve as those without hope. Be pleased to remind us all Father that our times are in your hands and that when those times have come to an end you call blessed those who die in the Faith once delivered to the Saints.

We ask that you would sustain those who are most wounded by Karen’s passing and that you would open before them the doors wherein they should walk in the future. Give them hope Father. Grant them your peace that passes all understanding. Given them wisdom for the days ahead.

We thank you for our undoubted catholic Christian faith which doubles our time of joy and braces us to continue on in times of sorrow.

In our majestic Lord Christ’s name, we pray,

Amen.

Was Judas Predestined to Betray Christ? … Answering a Pastor’s Objection

“Things Jesus never said:
 
Judas, I wanted to let you know that my Father has predestined you to betray me, so it’s really not your fault.”
 
Rev. Duncan Bryant
 
Bret responds,
 
 This statement was made tongue in cheek but I thought I would answer it as if someone really did believe that because Judas was predestined to betray Christ therefore he it was really not his fault.
 
Turning to the matter at hand we know from Scripture that the final days of the life of Jesus on earth were foreordained to include the betrayal of Judas, just as were the cross and resurrection (Mark 14:17-21; Acts 1:16 and Psalm 109:5-8).
 
17 And in the evening He came with the twelve. 18 And as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, one of you who eateth with Me shall betray Me.” 19 And they began to be sorrowful and to say unto Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said, “Is it I?” 20 And He answered and said unto them, “It is one of the twelve that dippeth with Me in the dish. 21 The Son of Man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born.”
 
Jesus went as it was written and every detail that led Jesus to the Cross was planned as well. Judas’ role was understood as ordained as seen by Peter’s words in Acts 1,
16 “Men and brethren, it was necessary that this Scripture be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spoke before concerning Judas, who was the guide to those who took Jesus.
 
In Psalm 109 Luther found Messianic material touching on Judas’ role. The heading given for the contents of this inspired poem is in a modern Luther’s German Bible: “Prophecy Concerning Judas and the Unfaithfulness against Christ by the Jews, and Their Curse.” Luther in a collection entitled: “The Four Psalms of Comfort,” dedicated to Queen Mary of Hungary, in the beginning of his exposition of this Psalm wrote: “David composed this psalm about Christ, who speaks the entire psalm in the first person against Judas, his betrayer, and against Judaism as a whole, describing their ultimate fate. In Acts 1:20 Peter applied this Psalm to Judas when they were selecting Matthias to replace him.” So, even though Rev. Bryant as a Pastor doesn’t see God’s plan in Judas’ work, Rev. Martin Luther saw God’s plan in Judas’ work.
 
Clearly, if Luther is right that the Psalmist speaks of Judas as the betrayer then what else can we conclude that God determined for Judas to betray Jesus? Both Jesus and Peter, as well as the Psalmist, in the above passages, verify that Judas was specifically chosen for the job of betrayal. Following Scripture then we rightly insist that Judas was predestined, called, elected, and/or chosen to betray Jesus.
 
And of course, we can’t forget Peter’s sermon,
 
Acts 2:23 He (Jesus) was handed over by God’s set plan and foreknowledge, and you, by the hands of the lawless, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross.
 
Now it beggars the imagination that God planned the actual crucifixion of Christ without planning every particular moment to that end including Judas’ betrayal. If I plan an omelet I also must plan to break eggs. If God planned to hand over His Son then God planned the means by which the Son was to be handed over. So, Judas had no free will. However, this does not mean Judas had no choice in the matter.
 
The Westminster Confession teaches regarding causation,
 
ii. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He ordereth them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
 
A “second cause” is simply “a cause caused by something else.” This expression is used in theology to distinguish between God as the ultimate cause of everything that comes to pass and the myriad smaller causes we see at work in the world. If I drop a cup of water gravity is the secondary cause that causes it to fall, but God is the one who causes gravity. He is the primary cause.
 
Judas was a secondary cause of Christ’s crucifixion. As a secondary cause, Judas did what he desired to do because of his fallen human nature. But behind Judas’ free choice was the God who ordains all things to come to pass. We certainly don’t believe that when Judas betrayed Christ, the Father said to Himself, “WOW, I did not see that coming,?” or, “Well, that wasn’t in the plan but I’ll work around it somehow.” Only a free will theist “reasons” that way.
 
Next, we would say that Judas was responsible (at fault) simply because God held Judas responsible. God is the creator and by being the creator all are responsible to Him simply because He holds them responsible. Can Judas say to the creator, “Why did you make me this way?”
 
So, we know, from Scripture that the eternal predestinating God did ordain Judas to betray Christ and that Judas remained responsible for this betrayal. All of this is why Scripture could call Judas, “The Son of perdition.”
 
This title of Judas (John 17:2), which he shares in Scripture with the Anti-Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:3) is a well known Hebrew idiom whereby someone who embodies a trait or characteristic or destiny is called the son of that trait, character or destiny. The name “Son of perdition,” as applied to both Judas and the antichrist represents them both as given over irrecoverably and totally to the final perdition; and this from the foundations of time since it was God’s destiny for them. A destiny they very much freely chose.
 
God predestined Judas from his conception to his hanging himself inclusive of his betrayal of Christ. To believe otherwise introduces us to a non omnipotent God and a completely different definition at all points of the Christian faith. 

On Pit-bulls and Love

Recently, I experienced all the joy of being attacked by a pit-bull and the subsequent delight of recovering from a significant dog bite. The whole experience got me thinking about the modern idea of “love” vis-a-vis an older idea of love. Allow me to explain.

A couple of days after the event I was contacted by the area Animal Control people who informed me that the dog would not be put down. Initially, I was good with that since I know the animal in question is a pet to some young children who doubtlessly love the animal. Having been a child once (it’s true… really) and having loved my own pets when a child I know that I would not have wanted my pet put down upon an incident that my parents told me was “not typical for the dog.” (Something I was told immediately after the incident by the owners while I sat dazed on the road.)

This is the love of seen consequences. I have compassion for the children (no, I don’t have any compassion for the criminal dog) and out of that compassion, I don’t want to see their feelings hurt.

However, this could also be called hatred in terms of unseen consequences of my agreeing to a lenient approach with the animal in question. The neighborhood that I live in, and where this happened is teeming with children. My agreement for lenient treatment for this animal, while putatively loving to its owners (the seen consequence) is potentially hateful to the next child or person who is attacked and bitten by the dog. My leniency has the consequence of endangering some unseen future person who could share my fate since I was so full of compassion for the children for whom the dog was a pet. I’ve had compassion for the children at the expense of showing a lack of compassion for some future child or person. If somebody else is bitten by this creature, you can be sure I am going to be kicking myself for being so “nice.” This thought has grown exponentially in my musings when I learned the data showing that nearly two-thirds of all dog-bite fatalities come from pit-bulls and this in spite of their only comprising six percent of America’s dog population.

Now, enlarge this idea on a grander scale and see the impact of this. For years we practiced a love wherein we thought about the unseen consequences. For example, in our social order and culture, for years if a young woman was pregnant out of wedlock, she would disappear from school and perhaps be sent to some relative who lived away from the community in question. Help could still be expected but it would help via the back door and not the front door. We look back on that now and think about how unloving that action was and we do so because we have forgotten the love that was being shown to other young ladies who were not pregnant and who may be less likely to engage in the behavior that resulted in the social ostracism of one of their friends. Like my action with the pit-bull which bit me, we are “loving” according to seen consequences and not loving according to unseen consequences.

Today, we don’t do anything to communicate such an action as a taboo because to do so would not be “loving,” just as my not wanting to put the dog that bit me down was loving to one party but unloving to some potential future person.

Love is seldom a zero-sum game. When we offer some version of love to one person we see we very often deprive love to some person who is unseen and not being taken into consideration. When we offer “love” by not visiting capital crimes with capital punishment we show “love” to the criminal but we withhold our love to God and the victim’s family. When we offer “love” to the illegal alien by the spending of our non-infinite nation’s resources we are with-holding our love to the citizen. And when I show love to the children of the pit-bull, I may well be showing a lack of love to the next person who may well be mauled more than I was.

 

God’s Family Meal

“Meals can transcend time. Taste, and particularly smell, can evoke intense memories and take us immediately back to the last time we experienced the same flavor and aroma. Ritual meals celebrated the same way with the same food, drink, format every year can connect the decades together in ways that nothing else does — so an American family celebrating Thanksgiving in 2017 is closer, in many ways, to Thanksgiving 1917 than it is to the previous Tuesday.”

Charles Taylor 
A Secular Age 

If we are looking to see how families are connected to the generations who have gone before as we live our lives in everyday reality, we have only to look to the times shared around the dining room table during celebratory mealtimes. These kinds of meals were not merely about stuffing one’s face but they brought families together across generational lines. All of us still remember the family reunions characterized by shared meals. All of us still remember those family holiday meals we shared with our Grandparents and maybe even great-Grandparents. And now some of us are at the age they were when we remember those family meals and we are providing the echoes of the generations we remember to the generations who will someday remember us. And so the generations are connected by taste and smell.

The same is true of the Lord’s Table. Here we are connected to God’s people who have gone before by a shared meal with its tastes and smells, as well as a shared faith. As I come to the Table celebrated the same way with the same food, drink, format every time we break t bread and present the cup we can connect the decades together in ways that nothing else does. As I partake again of the table, I am not only eating for myself the bread of forgiveness and the drink of eternal life, I am mindful that I remain connected with those who have gone before. Here at the table Gary & Marge Douma, Buster McFadden, Carol Boffing, Ethel Smith, Cunningham Jones, Gert Kappinga Ralph and Jean Evans live still. We do this in remembrance of our Elder Brother, the Lord Christ, but the table — this shared meal — also reminds me … reminds us that we are not atomized individuals but we are part of a family … the family of God. In belonging to our Father who art in Heaven and as secured by our Elder Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, we remain covenantally connected to the sainted dead and to one another. We are the family of God and as God’s family, we are covenantally connected to the generations now gone because we all, both dead and alive, remain covenantally connected to our Elder Brother who is our covenantal connection and who gives Himself in the faith-filled eating of the Bread and the drinking of the Wine at God’s mealtime gathering.

God ties us here and generationally via a shared meal that proclaims a common faith. Shared meals have always been part of the Gospel faith. On the night when God delivered His nation from Egypt, He formed the identity of his people via a ritual meal with very precise instructions about what to eat, the order of the eating and how to catechize the children in the context of the meal.

It is that Passover meal that formed the identity of God’s people that was transcended by the Lord’s Christ in the new and better covenant.  The Lord Christ takes the unleavened bread breaks and divides it among the Israel of God saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Christ redirects the meaning of the bread in the Passover which communicated God’s deliverance from Egypt of His people to Himself as the only one in whom can be found deliverance from the wrath of God.

The focus of identity in this meal is Christ and not the OT Liberation shadow which proclaimed Christ.

Then Christ takes the cup and connected the contents to His blood.

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

And with this, the Passover is completely transcended and we see why it is called “a new and better” covenant. We say the Passover covenant is transcended and not replaced because we find in the Eucharistic meal all that was promised in the Passover meal come to full bloom. The Lord’s table is thus to the Passover meal what the full bloom of the Tulip is to the bud. The bloom doesn’t replace the bud. The bloom transcends the bud. It is all that the bud was promissory of.

But note something else here… and with this, we go on a brief rabbit trail. Note that Christ has connected the meal to the Passover.  And connects both the Passover meal as through the Lord’s Table to another meal… “I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” What we see here is the necessity of reading Scripture like listening to symphonies. Scripture, like Beethoven’s fifth (insert first four notes) is a movement that continues to return to familiar themes. Like symphonies Scripture develops themes, enlarging and expanding those themes as Scripture unfolds. Like symphonies, Scripture takes a theme and by way of dissonance introduces distinct developments that are later fit into the overall theme. By the means of a meal man falls. (Beethoven sound effect). By the means of a meal God gives a clear identity to His people and inaugurates a new religious civilization (sound effect). By the means of a meal, God transcends the previous meal, anchoring His people’s faith identity in Christ and so inaugurates again a new and improved religious civilization with organic links to the previous one (sound effect).  Follow the meals as a theme. Abraham’s three visitor’s share a meal. The covenant is confirmed on Sinai via a meal. Jesus’ first miracle of Cana was in the context of feasting.  The symphony rises and falls. New nuances are developed but the theme is constantly returned to.

And now we are looking forward to that promised meal that will be the glorious consummation meal where all God’s peoples of all time and all places will sit with our Lord Christ at the head of the table passing the best of the wine around (sound effect).  And every time we sit down at this meal, we sit down with the family of God — past, present, and future.

Beethoven said the first four notes of his fifth symphony was “the sound of Fate knocking at the door.” For us, as God’s people, the Lord’s table is the sound of God’s promise to deliver us beating the door down.

Because of all this, we can see that the Lord’s table is not merely the extension of the Passover but rather better said the Passover was a proleptic adumbration which anticipated the Lord’s table. It was merely the bud of the coming bloom. I can’t help but wonder when we arrive on the other side if we will think that the Lord’s table was a proleptic adumbration to the consummation meal.

Now … what do I mean that the Passover was a proleptic adumbration to the Lord’s table?

Well, proleptic is the assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished.

And adumbration means, to outline or to sketch.

What I’m seeking to communicate with that phrase is while the Passover is not equal to the Lord’s Table it is an outline of the Lord’s Table that has in it the assumption of the future act of the Lord’s table as presently existing. Which is a fancy way of saying that the Passover is the bud. The bud is not the bloom but it has the accomplished bloom in it.

This is why the Passover meal is NOTHING to us as Christians. Why go back to the bud when you have the bloom? This idea that the reality is present in Christ is why the writer to the Hebrews could warn his readers not to go back to the shadows…. to the proleptic adumbrations. The reality of Christ was present. No going back. No partaking in Passover meals. All that Passover Promised is present in Christ and the Lord’s Table. As we eat in faith here is our deliverance.

And so we come to the table again. Covenantally gathered with the Saints who have gone before. In coming together to the Table we are reminded that we are the spiritual family of God. We come as belonging to particular families and so we come as a family of families all spiritually bonded together in Christ so that we can refer to each other as Brothers and Sisters. We come to this table understanding how it fits in a wee bit with God’s Scripture symphony of meals and looking forward to the final climax of that meal in the day to come. But until that day, and on this day, we do this in Remembrance of Him.”

Transcendence

We return this morning to the issue of God’s attributes and we ask ourselves why would we take time to consider the attributes of God. Why take one Sunday a month to consider God’s character?

There are several ways we could answer that.

First, we would answer that the cure for what ails the Church in the West today is to adjust how we think about God. Shallow and unworthy thoughts regarding the character of God will result in our own shallow and unworthy character.

Many are those who have rightfully complained about the lack of character or substance of modern men of the West.

C. S. Lewis wrote,

‘We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.’

T. S. Eliot similarly could say,

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

The character of modern Western man generally speaking suffers and is in rapid decline. I submit to you this morning there is only one way that can be altered. It won’t be altered by political legislation. It won’t be altered by an educational program. It won’t be altered by some kind of revolutionary call to arms. What is wrong with the character of the modern Western man will only be cured by his returning to God and so thinking right thoughts about God once again. The cure to men without chests, and to men who are hollow is to return to God.

“It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.”

A. W. Tozer
The Knowledge of the Holy — pg. 7

So, when we speak of the Character and attributes of God we are seeking to throw a life preserver to ourselves and our generation. We are seeking to rescue the perishing and to care for the dying. We are praying that the consequence will once again be that the men of the West will see God high and lifted up and in the seeing of that they themselves having been brought low in repentance will themselves be lifted up.

What we are doing then by looking at the Character of God is not some academic exercise about God as if we were putting Him under a microscope in order to dissect him as if we were the controllers of the experiment. Indeed it is we who end up under the microscope when we begin to see the character of God.

The greatest sin that man can engage in is to think wrongly about God.  This was the complaint of God as registered in Psalm 50,

“Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself.”

Similarly, God brings a charge against His people in Isaiah for the same

(You) did not remember Me Nor give Me a thought?

As we come to this matter then of the Attributes of God we are seeking to remember God and give Him a thought.

This morning we take up the Attribute of God’s Transcendence. By doing so we are continuing to consider God’s Uncommunicable Attributes. That is, we are considering those attributes of God which God has as being and distinct and unique from us.  This stands in contrast to God’s communicable attributes which are those attributes that we might share with God.

When we consider God’s Transcendence we are considering God’s otherness.  God’s Transcendence refers God’s quality of being that supersedes any attempt on our part to define and describe. It is why God speaks of Himself in Isaiah as,

“Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity.” (57:15)

 For you, LORD, are high above all the earth: you are exalted far above all gods. (Psalm 97:9)

God sits upon the rim of the earth. Its inhabitants are but grasshoppers.

God’s otherness does not allow us to think of the grandness of God in terms of comparative statements. God’s Transcendence is not a matter of God being the being who is the highest in ascending order as if there might be some other beings who are closer to God in otherness or loftiness than other beings. We are not merely speaking of God being the being who has the most eminence and so is preeminent. We are talking about God as a being who is in the category of Transcendent. Because of God’s Transcendence, God is as Other over an Archangel as He is over a worm. The worm and the archangel have much more in common with each other, being created beings, than either of them have in common with God since God is uncreated and dwells in unapproachable light.

The hymn writes Isaac Watts tried to capture some of this when he inked,

How shall polluted mortals dare
to sing Thy glory or Thy grace?
Beneath Thy feet we lie afar,
And see but shadows of thy face

Transcendence then refers to the reality of God’s nature and power which is wholly other and so independent of the Creation He created.

It is easy to see then that when we begin to talk about God’s Transcendence we stumble into the reality of His Majesty… His splendor … His Supremacy and Sovereignty. It is what Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6 when He cried out,

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

The fact that we are no longer conversant with the idea of God’s Transcendence is proven by our casual dismissal and disregard for God’s Law which is tightly bound to His character. The fact that we are no longer conversant with the idea of God’s Transcendence is proven by our lack of awe in our worship … by our profaning and desacralizing the very life and bodies that God has given us. The fact that we are no longer conversant with the idea of God’s Transcendence is seen that we no longer walk with the fear of the Lord before our eyes. There is no sense of awe…. no sense of respect … no sense of being humbled before God.

And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
And yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah
What if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?

Just tryin’ to make his way home
Like back up to heaven all alone
Nobody callin’ on the phone
‘Cept for the Pope maybe in Rome

The irreverence of modern man is shocking. The lack of any sense of God’s Transcendence colors nearly everything the modern Chruch does.

God’s Transcendence means that we can’t guess at God. Man cannot, by his philosophical musings or his artistic intuition arrive at God. Instead this Transcendent God must make Himself known before we can have any beginning idea of who He is. God, because Transcendent is inscrutable… His ways past tracing out if we were left to ourselves to try and trace out His Transcendent ways. It is why first, Isaiah, and then Paul could write,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” for “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is 55:8-9). 

 “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How
unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who
has known the mind of the Lord?” (Rom 11:33-34).

Job discovered God’s Transcendence when God interviewed Job from the whirlwind.

J. I. Packer speaking of God’s Transcendence could write,

God is not the sort of person that we are; his wisdom, his aims, his scale of values, his mode of procedure differ so vastly from our own that we cannot possibly guess our way to them by intuition or infer them by analogy from our notion of ideal manhood. We cannot know him unless he speaks and tells us about himself.

God’s Transcendence here is the idea that God exists both above and independently from all creation.

This idea of God Transcendent weaves its way through all the Scripture from Genesis 1:1 where we find the Transcendent God creating ex-nihilo to the book of Revelation where there is no need of the sun because the presence of the Transcendent God provides light for His community. Because the Transcendence of God permeating the Scriptures the people of God were permeating with the truth of God’s transcendence. This truth gave the people of God gravitas, weightiness, character in the old sense of the word. They had walked with God and had been in the presence of His otherness, His bigness, His Majesty and the result is that it sprinkled itself upon them and they began to reflect His majesty.

How do I know that the Church has lost the Transcendence of God? How do I know that we have little understanding of God’s Holy Otherness?

We sing nursery rhymes about God or even worse we seek to place His character in anti-music and then perform it in Church. A people who understood God’s Transcendence would not do this.

We come to meet with God looking like we are going to the beach or worse like we are going to the quarry to hew rock and stone. A people who understood God’s Transcendence would not do this.

We put forward men for the ministry who have no awe of God before their eyes as seen in their casual approach in the pulpit as in seen in their glorying in their scarrified bodies. A people who understood God’s Transcendence would not do this.

We no longer instruct our children in the Catechism choosing instead to entrust them to pagans who have no fear of God before their eyes. A people who understood God’s Transcendence would not do this.

We divorce God from His work of creation talking about exploding eggs of possibility bringing all creation forth. We suggest that God’s Word might have mistakes so that we have to adjudicate whether the Word of God is taken as spoken by God or as spoken as myth or spiritual history. A people who understood God’s Transcendence would not do this.

Concretely considered here are some examples of God’s Transcendence

First, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).  Only a God who is Other than His creation … who is Transcendent over His creation could be the creator.

Secondly, we would note that God’s Transcendence is of such a nature that all of His other attributes are riven with that Transcendence. For example, God’s Holiness…

Exodus 33:20 the Lord told Moses, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” His holiness was so Transcendent that no human could withstand it.

Another example is God’s Transcendence in His Love

 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

Fourth, God is transcendent in the sense that He is eternal. No other person or thing includes this property or attribute of eternality; only God. His eternal nature is higher than all others.

Fifth, God is transcendent in His power. He not only created all things, He is more powerful than any other thing. Job noted many of the ways God is more powerful than creation, asking, “But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14).

Sixth, the transcendence of God is closely related to his sovereignty. It means that God is above, other than, and distinct from all he has made – he transcends it all.

Paul says that there is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:6). Scripture says elsewhere, “For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods (Psalms 97:9; cf. 108:5).

Dangers of an unbiblical Transcendence,

1.) Too much Transcendence without the corresponding truth of God’s Immanence gives us the God of Deism.

When the reality of God’s Transcendence is surrendered a created immanent replaces the creator Transcendent.

The created subjective is idolatrously objectivized so that a subjective objective is embraced as an objective objective and thus becomes God walking on the earth.

Thus demonstrating that God and Transcendence are inescapable concepts.

To much Immanence without the corresponding Transcendence of God gives us Pantheism.

2.) A wrong-headed view of God’s Transcendence has been the bane of neo-orthodox Christianity.  Their unbiblical view of transcendence, one that teaches that God is so “wholly other” and it is impossible for His creation to communicate with Him at all leaves us in the place where once again man becomes God. If God is this kind of Transcendent so that it is impossible to apprehend Him then we are left to mystical encounters and artificial Jesus-talk.

Where no transcendental meaning exists (and the only truly transcendental meaning comes from the sovereign and triune God and the fact that He is maker of heaven and earth), man’s recourse then is to create a private meaning and read it onto and into the world and events. This is simply superstition, which is an irrational feeling or belief which is projected on to reality. Superstition becomes the recourse of men who reject the ontological trinity, and the more pronounced their rejection, the more pronounced their superstition.

RJR 
Systematic Theology pg. 1084