What does transcendent mean? How is God transcendent?
Transcendent means above, higher than, and/or independent from all others. We sometimes speak of an athlete whose abilities transcend all others. We may speak of a moment of our life that stands out as a highlight and transcends other times of life. What does it mean, however, that God is transcendent?
In relation to God, transcendent is the idea that He exists both above and independently from all creation. In other words, there is no other created thing that matches His power. In addition, nothing else can interfere with His power. He created all space, time, energy, and matter. Therefore, He is able to control all things as He pleases.
Biblically, we find this concept noted in a variety of ways. First, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Since He created all things, He clearly holds power over creation.
Second, He is greater than all others in terms of His holiness. In Exodus 33:20 the Lord told Moses, "you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." His holiness was so great that no human could withstand it.
Third, God is transcendent in terms of His sinlessness. Isaiah 64:6-7 says, "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities." Jesus came to earth as God in human form. Hebrews 4:15 tells us He was like us in all ways except that He was without sin. His sinless nature transcended all humanity.
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).
God is transcendent in many other ways as well. These five examples serve only as some of the key ways Scripture notes that God is both above and independent from all others. God is clearly transcendent, an attribute that should cause us to revere Him in worship in our words and with our lives.
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