The meaning of the word “transcend” in the English dictionary describes rising above, going further, triumphing over, being more, or extending beyond conventionallimits. When we use this term in connection with God, we are acknowledging and recognizing that He is completely beyond what we can imagine, understand or comprehend. Let’s explore what scripture has to say about God’s transcendent characteristics:
God’s thoughts transcend our thoughts
People, especially thinkers, like to figure things out. We pride ourselves on our ability to solve complex scientific and mathematic problems, and to describe everything in the cosmos with equations and formulas. But even the smartest minds we may be aware of pale in comparison with the mind of our Lord, who knows every living creature and all the particulars about each individual life while also holding the key to every question’s answer and all of the mysteries of the universe.
Psalm 139 – David declares the Lord’s thoughts to be precious, and beyond summing.
Isaiah 55: 8-9 – God’s thoughts are stated to be entirely different than our thoughts – and also much, much higher in nature.
Isaiah 40:13 – The prophet wonders, “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
God’s power transcends our power
We as humans have done mighty things such as launching rockets into space, creating dynamite and bombs, assembling airplanes so that we could fly from place to place, and even building structures that last for centuries and rise high above the earth. However, we have yet to create life or to manufacture a single seed. Truthfully, we cannot dream of creating something as vast as the ocean or a mountain range, nor would we have the discretion involved to restrain such power when necessary. God has done all of these things… and more.
Hebrews 11:3 – “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
Isaiah 40:12 – Our Lord is powerful enough to hold the waters of the seas in His hand, weigh the mountains of the earth on His scale, measure the heavens and more…
Ephesians 1:18-21 – God’s power is incomprehensible, even to us who believe in it, for it is the same exact power that resurrected Christ from the dead, thereby defeating death itself.
God’s ways transcend our ways
God’s way is the way of covenants. God interacts with His people by making binding agreements with them that can never be broken. He demonstrates His faithfulness, justice, and love by constantly upholding His covenants with mankind. We all know the pain of broken promises, but we do not have to worry about that with God – He is always true to His Word. The promises made to His people in scripture are set in stone.
Hosea 2:19-20 – God promises His betrothal to His people is everlasting, righteous, just, loving, faithful, and compassionate.
Psalm 89:33-34 – Scripture tells us that God will never betray His own faithfulness, nor violate His own covenant, nor alter in any way what His lips have uttered.
Psalm 33:11 – “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” The covenants of our Lord will always stand.
God’s wisdom transcends our wisdom
Wisdom can be defined as knowing the right thing to do at the right time and in the right place. This generally comes with experience, knowledge, and good judgment. God always makes the right decision because He has perfect, divine wisdom. He is literally incapable of making the wrong choice or having ‘bad timing’. This is one reason why we, as Christians, trust our Lord so much – because He always knows what to do, when to do it, and why.
1 Cor. 1:25 – “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
1 Cor. 2:6-8 – The wisdom granted to us as believers is not of this world or this age – it is the timeless wisdom of an eternal being.
Romans 11:33 – “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!”
In addition to the above transcendent qualities of God, it is also true that His glory, love, compassion, grace, mercy, creativity, and humility are far above and beyond that of any human. But the key to understanding God’s transcendence is in perceiving the fact that God’s qualities and characteristics are NOT like enhanced or superior human characteristics– they are NOT like human characteristics at all. God is wholly other than – Beyond the limits of – mankind. We cannot ever hope to understand or fully comprehend our King and Almighty Father. Ultimately, when we truly grasp God’s transcendence we are led to reverent fear and worship, which involves our humble awe before Him (Ezek. 1:28). He is so far beyond us that we can’t possibly try to bring Him down to our level – instead, we exalt and bow before Him!
Korie Carter is a Structural Engineer by trade, holding a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in Gainesville. For the past decade, however, she has been increasingly focused on writing and teaching about scripture, which is her passion. She has completed several topical Bible Studies being taught at her home church, many insightful articles for personal devotion, and is working on a Christian fiction novel. Korie lives on Florida’s Space Coast at a suburban farm which she shares with her husband and three daughters, and she enjoys the beach, animals, music, and gardening.
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