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We say this in our sermons, prayers, and songs, but what does it really mean? For many Christians, the whole notion of God's presence remains vague and hard to define.
Exploring both the Old and New Testaments, professor J. Ryan Lister seeks to recover the centrality of the presence of God in the whole storyline of Scripture - a theme that is too often neglected and therefore misunderstood. In a world that longs for - yet struggles to find - intimacy with the Almighty, this book will help you discover the truth about God's presence with his people and what his drawing near means for the Christian life.
Number of Pages: 416
Publication Date: 2014
|Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)|
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This book explores the importance of Gods presence in the Bible and how it relates to his plan for the world, helping readers understand what we really mean when we say God is with us.
Ryan Lister (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is an associate professor of theology at Western Seminary and has also held teaching positions at Biola University, Louisiana College, and Charleston Southern University. He is on staff with Humble Beast, a Christian recording studio in Portland, Oregon. Ryan and his wife, Chase Elizabeth, live in Portland, Oregon, with their four children.
Thomas R. Schreiner (MDiv and ThM, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and associate dean of the school of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
contemplativereflections4 Stars Out Of 5Book Review: "The Presence of God"March 9, 2015contemplativereflectionsIn "The Presence of God," J. Ryan Lister brings readers on a journey through the Bible to show how God's presence is the centerpiece of God's story. Instead of simply viewing God's presence as a matter of fact, Lister urges readers to see how God's presence is actually the entire focal point of the biblical narrative. This work takes great lengths to link the various storylines in the Bible and puts them in perspective of how God continually and still continues to reveal Himself to the human race. Starting from the Garden of Eden and ending at the heavenly city, Lister illustrates how God never gives up gathering His people in whom He bestows all the goodness and mercy found in Him alone. The author asserts that God's primary purpose in all His interactions with His creatures is to have them enjoy His presence in eternity. Throughout the book, Lister uses large amounts of biblical references and research to support his findings enabling the reader to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Bible as a grand story. The last few chapters provide readers with practical applications on how God's presence transforms our lives presently and in the future.
I found this book to be helpful in its reminder to us that God is so gracious and awesome. Despite disobeying Him throughout the generations, God has never forsaken the fallen human race but has mapped out a grand scheme to bring His chosen back to Himself. Indeed this is the central message of the Gospel. Lister encourages Christians to immerse themselves in God's story and participate in making God's presence known to all the peoples of the earth; a much needed message for those of us who have languished in our gospel efforts. I would definitely recommend this book to those hoping to get a taste of biblical theology as the material is well-researched and provides a good primer to delve in this topic further. At the same time, I would caution readers as the references are quite weighty and the extensive footnotes may become a distraction to readers unfamiliar with the topic. In any case, I am very appreciative of Lister's work and the important topic of God's presence.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.
Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5God Most High -- God Most NearJanuary 19, 2015Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Sometimes a book is conceived long before it is born. Seeds for The Presence of God were planted in the summer of 2000 with the authors study of Psalm 16:11:
You make known to me the path of life;
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
At your right hand are pleasures forever.
Letting Scripture direct his steps, Lister began an expedition to understand the biblical motif of Gods presence and the result is an exhaustive chronicle of the presence of God throughout biblical history. His book is a theological feast which requires a slow digestion. As I was reading, it occurred to me that working through Listers book, section by section, alongside a trip through the Bible in a year would provide enriching backstory to each days reading.
The Presence of God is based on several big-picture concepts:
1. Defining the presence of God requires two distinct delineations. Eschatological presence is the immediate and fully relational presence of God seen only in Genesis 1-3 and Revelation 21-22 when the believer finally enters the dwelling place of God for all eternity. After Adam and Eves rebellion, there is a change that occurs in the presence of God.
Adams sin disturbed the whole universe, hung up the great curtain in the temple, and dug the hole for the coming cross of Christ.
Gods redemptive presence comes with the goal of restoring all that sin has destroyed. From that point on, the divine presence is at work in history to bring about a New Paradise that will cover the whole earth completing what the first creation began.
2. The presence of God is a central goal in Gods redemptive mission, but at the same time, it is the agent by which God accomplishes that mission.
3. It is not contradictory for a God who is transcendent to also be immanent. In fact, it is Gods transcendence that allows for His immanence, and, the glorious truth of His immanence is based on the intimacy that has always existed among the members of the Trinity.
Lister argues that each of the Old Testament covenants revolves around Gods promise of a place in which to house the divine presence and a people to revel in that presence, thus reflecting His glory. He helps us to see that Gods commitment to be present with His people is overwhelming strong enough to conquer sin and death. Spotlighting the presence of God as the center of redemptive history, Lister works his way through Old Testament time until Matthew trumpets the entry of God in the flesh, when redemptive presence takes on flesh and blood, sweat and sandals. From this point in Scripture, our Lord is pulling the common threads of all the previous covenants together to create the beautiful fabric of the New Covenant.
Following the trajectory of Gods presence across the story arc from Eden to tabernacle, from temple to exile, and from Jesus to the New Jerusalem is well worth a Christians reading time, but J. Ryan Lister goes the extra mile in his final chapters to answer the so what? question. The magnificent truth that God is with us gives deeper significance to our great salvation, to our identity as the church, and to our anticipation of the future coming of Christ when He will, once again, usher in His unmitigated presence. The fact that He has drawn near to us opens the door of relationship for us to draw near to Him. The Pentecost reversal of Babels alienation points to the Spirit-initiated work of reconciliation that God desires for the world. In the believer, the Spirit does the work of sanctification, empowering the miracle of killing sin and displaying righteousness. Manifesting the presence of God in this age, the Church waits for Christs return, not so that we can quibble over the WHEN, but so that we can rejoice over the WHY: that our story and His story may once again be one.
Disclosure: This book was provided by Crossway in exchange for my unbiased review.
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