1. God is immanent because he is transcendent
The Lord is “God in the heavens above (transcendent) and on the earth beneath (immanent)” (Josh 2:11). God’s transcendence means that there is no deficiency in him that creation satisfies. Rather, God comes among us out of the abundance of who he is. He draws near because of our need (Isa 57:15), not his.
2. The Bible emphasizes God’s manifest presence, not only his omnipresence
God is everywhere (Psa 139:5-12; 1 Kings 8:27), and God is here. But we should not neglect the latter at the expense of the former. Scripture is reticent about speaking of God in the abstract: it is more concern with the manifestation of his presence in redemption and relationship. This is the thrust of the Bible’s storyline, from Eden to tabernacle/temple, to incarnation, to the new creation.
3. The story of Scripture begins and ends with the presence of God
In Genesis 1-3, Eden is not just the first couple’s home: it is a sanctuary, a place where God and his image-bearers relate.
The Bible closes (Rev 21:1-14) with a similar but much grander picture. The entire renewed creation comprises a perfect sanctuary for God to dwell with man eternally. This is Eden restored and expanded.
4. Humanity’s mission and the presence of God are inseparable
God did not just give man and woman a home: he gave them a purpose. They were to “be fruitful and multiply” in order to “fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion” (Gen 1:28). As the family expands, so do the borders, and God’s presence with it. God continues to exercise dominion through Adam and Eve and their progeny (Num 14:21; cf. Ps 72:19; Isa 11:9).
5. Sin undermines humanity’s mission and the experience of God’s presence
But our first parents rebelled, and as a consequence Adam finds his work toilsome, and Eve finds her role painful. The place where men and women were to enjoy fellowship both with one another and with their Creator has become a place of sorrow and disfellowship. They find themselves exiles from the place where God’s presence had once been freely enjoyed.
6. God covenants to bring his presence back to his people
But God will not give up on his rebellious children. Their Creator purposes to be their Redeemer. He covenants to restore what Adam had lost. He makes a people through whom he can bless humanity. At the heart of this covenant is a relationship: “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” (Gen 17:7; Ex 6:7; 29:45, Rev 21:3, etc.).
7. The presence of God is the means and end of redemption
The goal of redemption is the Lord dwelling with humankind. In order to achieve this, God writes himself into the story of salvation. Together, these form the key-note of the entire Bible.
8. The presence of God finds its greatest expression in Immanuel, God with us
So God enters human history himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, who gave his life as a ransom for many (Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45). Who would have thought it! God becomes a man, walks among us, and dies for us! In doing this, Christ re-opens access to God so that those who once were far off may once again draw near (Heb 4:16; 7:19).
9. The purposes of the church are tied to the presence of God
The New Testament calls the church a ‘temple’ for good reason (see 1 Cor 3:16-17; 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; Eph 2:13-22). Those who are ‘in Christ’ are themselves the means by which the Lord disseminates his presence in a sinful world. Accordingly, the church keeps itself pure as a dwelling place for God, and it spreads the gospel so that the lost may enjoy God’s presence too.
10. To be a joyful Christian is to know God’s presence
God is not a genie upon whom we can call when we need a bit of magic. That’s not the way real relationships work. Life – real life, eternal life – is about living in God’s presence. David can pray, “in your presence there is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:11). Other things may be of relative importance; only this is of ultimate importance. For this we were made, for this Christ came, for this we have been saved.
‘This is eternal life, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.’ (Jn 17:3)
(Based on this, by Ryan Lister. The wording of the headings has been retained; otherwise, I have offered my own precis)