The Presence of God: Its Place in the Storyline of Scripture and the Story of Our Lives

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This book explores the importance of God’s 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.

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The Presence of God: Its Place in the Storyline of Scripture and the Story of Our Lives

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This book explores the importance of God’s 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.

Read More Show Less

What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

“Ryan Lister knows more about the biblical teaching concerning God’s presence in the world than anyone else I know. And there is no theme more important to our relationship with God. Lister’s book is a great antidote to the temptation to see God only as a concept, doctrine, or formula, or to regard him only as a force in the world outside ourselves. The book shows that God is our friend and Father, and that in him we live and move and have our being.”
John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“We need more biblical theologies like this one! Ryan Lister has identified a central biblical theme that we easily take for granted. With the unity of Scripture to the fore, he has provided us with a diligently researched study of one of the golden threads that highlight the glories of Christ’s person and work. This is thematic biblical study at its best.”
Graeme Goldsworthy, Former Lecturer in Old Testament, Biblical Theology, and Hermeneutics, Moore Theological College

“Ryan Lister provides a great service to the people of God by tracing the theme of God’s presence from Genesis to Revelation, showing that it is not only central to the Christian eschatological hope, but also the gracious means by which God moves fallen sinners to that glorious beatific vision.”
Steven B. Cowan, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Lincoln Memorial University

“The whole of the Bible, from soon after the entrance of sin in Genesis 3 to Revelation 22, can be read as the story of God coming nearer. The Presence of God is filled with insight that unpacks the fullness of Scripture’s development on this theme, but also shows how precious the concept of God’s presence with his people is for our lives. Lister has been very careful to represent clearly and appropriately the development of this beautiful biblical theme, and he has done this in a way that is highly relevant for Christian identity and Christian living. Do yourself a favor—read this book and rejoice that God has chosen to come near.”
Bruce A. Ware, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“The much misunderstood notion of the presence of God is central to the Bible’s story from beginning to end. Ryan Lister explains how it is both God’s goal for us and the means by which God accomplishes his redemptive mission. This fresh approach to biblical theology is presented as an unfolding drama, with many practical and pastoral implications. In particular, it shows that a sound and scripturally mature analysis of the presence of God can help answer this world’s deep-seated spiritual desires.”
David Peterson, Former Principal, Oak Hill College; Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in New Testament, Moore Theological College

“Ryan Lister provides an exegetically grounded theology of relational divine presence that is traced along the Christ-centered storyline of the Bible. This work is an outstanding model of evangelical scholarship, and Lister’s conclusions invade every square inch of our lives as we seek to fulfill the primary reason for our existence—knowing the holy God who mercifully draws near to his people.”
Erik Thoennes, Professor of Theology, Chair, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; Pastor, Grace Evangelical Free Church, La Mirada, California

“God’s presence is fundamental to God’s story. It is a profound reality. While we have access to this reality in part through our experience of it, the reality is even more than what we experience—it is deep theology grounded in what God has said in his Word about himself. Lister’s work examines this fertile soil of God’s self-revelation, out of which our experiences can flourish with renewed vigor.”
Mike Wilkerson, author, Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433539152
  • Publisher: Crossway
  • Publication date: 11/30/2014
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 751,469
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Ryan Lister (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate professor of theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of The Presence of God. He and his wife, Chase Elizabeth, have three children.

Thomas R. Schreiner is the James Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds an MDiv and ThM from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary and a PhD from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has published a number of articles and book reviews in scholarly journals.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted January 19, 2015

    Sometimes a book is conceived long before it is born. Seeds for

    Sometimes a book is conceived long before it is born. Seeds for The Presence of God were planted in the summer of 2000 with the author’s 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 God’s 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 Lister’s book, section by section, alongside a trip through the Bible in a year would provide enriching backstory to each day’s 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 Eve’s rebellion, there is a change that occurs in the presence of God.

    “Adam’s sin disturbed the whole universe, hung up the great curtain in the temple, and dug the hole for the coming cross of Christ.”

    God’s 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 God’s 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 God’s 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 God’s 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 “God’s 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 God’s presence across the story arc from Eden to tabernacle, from temple to exile, and from Jesus to the New Jerusalem is well worth a Christian’s 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 Babel’s 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 Christ’s 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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