From The Australian Free Presbyterian: December, 1948
THE STUDY of the omnipresence of God will undoubtedly enrich the mind in the knowledge of God's purpose and our destiny in Christ, opening up to us the galleries of Jehovah, in a measure, where the enlightened intellect will grasp something of the perfections of the attributes of God and where the heart stirred by the grandeur and solemnity of such a venture will find the solidity of the consolations of the Gospel. The very infinitude of God's perfections will also make us sensible to our own littleness by revealing the limitations of man's most extensive knowledge.
Dr. Hodge, in his Class Book on the Westminster Confession of Faith, states: "God is declared to be infinite in His being, hence He can exist under none of the limitations of time or space. He must be eternal, and He must fill all immensity. He is infinite, eternal, omnipresent in His being, infinite, eternal and omnipresent in His wisdom, in His power and justice. His immensity, when we attribute this perfection to God, we mean that His essence fills all space. This cannot be effected by the multiplication of His essence, since He is one and indivisible; nor through its extension or diffusion, like ether through the interplanetary spaces, because He is pure spirit. The spirit of God like the spirit of man must be an absolute unit, without extension or dimensions." When we speak of God's eternity, we mean that He has neither beginning nor end. His immutability, He neither increases nor diminishes. His omnipresence, He is neither bound nor limited. There is absolute perfection in God's attributes."
The omnipresence of God, therefore, requires that He should be invisible, for visibility implies limitation. If God were visible, He would not be infinite, He would not be God. Were He visible, He must have form or shape and a visible figure pervading all space is an absurdity for it would preclude the existence of everything else but itself, or, as Hall has said: ''That which has an assignable figure must be circumscribed within a certain outline, there must be some point in space where it terminates and space begins again, consequently it must be limited." Charnock, quoting Chrysostom, said: "God is everywhere and nowhere, nowhere in the sense that He is not bounded by any place nor receives from any place anything for His preservation or sustainment. God is everywhere, for no creature either body or spirit can exclude the presence of His essence. "In Him we live and move and have our being," therefore the divine perfection of His omnipresence requires His invisibility." All Scripture teaches that it is so. Paul, when writing to the Colossians said, speaking of Christ, ''Who is the image of the invisible God". In another passage of Holy Writ Moses is referred to as "seeing by faith, Him who is invisible." John declares, "That no man hath seen God at anytime." The Apostle Paul, using language especially framed to impress upon the mind of the reader the absolute invisibility of God, refers to God as: ''The blessed and only potentate, King of kings and Lord of Lords who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen or can see."
Nevertheless the effects of God's power and wisdom can be seen. This is clearly revealed when Moses requested to behold the glory of God, and God said: "Thou canst not see my face for there shall no man see me and live. And it shall come to pass when my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in the cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand, and I will take away my hand and thou shalt see my back parts, but my face shall not be seen." The "back parts" that Moses beheld, were the manifestations of God's wisdom and power. God is essentially present everywhere, equally omnipresent to all His creatures, at all times, and varioulsly manifests Himself at different times and places to His intelligent creatures. "Whither shall I go from Thy spirit?" said the Psalmist, "or whither shall I flee Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me."
In heaven, earth and sea He is present. He fills the depths of hell, the extensiveness of the earth and the heights of heaven. His righteous judgments are manifest in the habitations of the lost, on earth, in His grace and mercy, in heaven in the consummation of His purpose. God is equally present with the doomed and the blessed but He breathes only upon the elect that they might be one with Christ.
The manifestations of God's presence is relative to the condition and place of the individual. Paul addressing his audience on Mar's Hill, many of whom were scoffers, urged them to seek the Lord, "If haply they might feel after Him, though He be not far from everyone of us." "Even the atheist," said Flint, in his work on Theism, "neither his sorrow nor satisfaction is fully intelligible if his soul has before it an impersonal law or the abstract nature of things; both presupposes that he has a kind of consciousness of being under cognisance of a person of moral attributes."
While God's invisibility may be proved from His omnipresence, it is to be remembered that it is a general rule that men overlook the existence of that which they do not see. Therefore, by remembering that God is invisible, His omnipresence is best realised. Surely then, our lives should be more circumspect when we are conscious that the invisible God is ever present. From the commencement of our existence He has never been absent from us for a moment. As you walk in the street He is beside you. In the pursuit of your calling you may be utterly unmindful of His presence, but He is there, not one word or act can be said or accomplished in secret. You mingle with the crowd, but God is nearer to you than those who brush your shoulder. You may see the solitude and silence, but you are not alone.
The unregenerate sinner would seek to escape from the presence of God, but He cannot. "Whither shall he go from God's spirit, whither shall he flee from God's presence?" To the condemned sinner at the final judgment the consciousness of the omnipresence of God will undoubtedly inflict the most excruciating torment upon the mind; the bottomless abyss of hell and its terrors would prove a welcome refuge, but that shall not be.
To the sinner saved by grace, the omnipresence of God is a source of unfailing consolation. Paul refers to Moses, "as enduring" because he saw Him, by faith, "who is invisible". God's presence will sustain the faithful what ere may be the conditions or circumstances. He is an eyewitness to every struggle against sin. He understands every tear and He will smile upon every sincere endeavour to do His will in accordance with His Word.