God is greater than the universe. He is limitless and boundless. But he chooses to relate to us anyway. He is personal.
The attribute of infinity is not one that he shares with us, so theology calls it “incommunicable” or “unshareable” or “non-transferrable.” But the good news is that the infinite God is personal—the personal, infinite God.
Let’s start with some theological definitions, which are derived from the Scriptures.
What do theologians say?
Don’t be frustrated if you have to read this section several times before it “clicks.”
Louis Berkhof has a deep definition of God’s infinity:
The infinity of God is that perfection [attribute] by which He is free from all limitations. In ascribing it to God we deny that there are or can be any limitations to the divine Being or attributes. It implies that He is in no way limited by the universe, by this space-time world, or confined to the universe. It does not involve His identity with the sum-total of existing things, nor does it exclude the co-existence of derived and finite things, to which he bears relation. The infinity of God must be conceived as intensive rather than extensive and should not be confused with boundless extension, as if God were spread out through the entire universe, one part being here and another there, for God has no body and therefore no extension. (p. 59)
Translation: God’s infinity is without limits; it is limitless. It is not limited by the universe, but he relates to his creation. God is not a body, so he does not exist here or there. God is not the universe (pantheism) or live in the universe, like the mind inhabits the body (panentheism). No, God is infinite, while the universe is finite (or growing towards something like infinity).
Norman Geisler defines God’s infinity like this:
The term infinite (“not-finite”) is negative in form [the word not], but it denotes a positive attribute of God. God is literally limitless in His Being. He is without boundaries, a Being beyond the limits of the created universe. It is only because of the finite nature of our concepts that the positive attribute must be expressed in negative terms [not finite]. (p. 470)
The Prof. Geisler goes on to say that God is not an abstract infinite as in math—an infinite number of points between A and B. Instead, God is infinite in a metaphysical way. “He is an actual infinite Being, not an abstract one.” He further says that God is not an endless series of moments, one after another. Rather, “He is an actually Infinite Being (not a series) and cannot be added to in any way.”
Translation: God is not growing towards infinity; he is actually infinite. His infinity is not abstract, but complete. It is not serial or sequential. He simply is limitless and unbounded.
Wayne Grudem insightfully joins the infinite and the personal:
In the teaching of the Bible, God is both infinite and personal: he is infinite in that he is not subject to any limitations of humanity or of creation in general. He is far greater than everything he has made, far greater than anything else that exists. But he is also personal: he interacts with us as a person, and we can relate to him as persons. We can pray to him, worship him, obey him, and love him, and he can speak to us, rejoice in us, and love us. (p. 167, emphasis original)
God is infinite. This means not only that God is unlimited, but that he is illimitable. In this respect, God is unlike anything we experience. (p. 243).
He goes on to describe things we used to think were “infinite” or limitless, like sources of energy, the ocean, food, but they are not. But God really is illimitable.
Prof. Erickson continues by saying that God is not limited by space; he is immense and all-present:
All finite objects have a location. They are somewhere. This necessarily prevents their being somewhere else. The magnitude of finite objects is measured by how much space they occupy. With God, however, the question of whereness or location is not applicable. God is the one who brought space (and time) into being. He was before there was space. He cannot localized at a particular point. There can be no plotting of his location on a set of coordinates. This is because he has no physical body to be located at a particular place. (p. 243)
It is difficult to improve on Berkhof’s definition, but basically God is limitless, for his universe does not contain him or restrain him, yet he is personal and relates to his creation, particularly humankind.
What do the Scriptures say?
I use the NIV here. If you would like to see the following verses in many translations or in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.
The concept of God’s infinity is built on Scriptures that affirm he is beyond the physical universe—he created and sustains it. We should not demand of the practical and poetic Scriptures philosophical arguments, but the core message of God’s infinity is clear enough.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen. 1:1)
Will God dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. (1 Kings 8:27)
Great is our Lord and might y in power; his understanding has no limit (Ps. 147:5)
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
8 They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know? 9 Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea. (Job 11:7-9)
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who can fathom the Spirit[d] of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? 14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? (Is. 40:12-14)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Is. 55:8-9)
For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Is. 57:15)
This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? 2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. (Is. 66:1-2)
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Rom. 11:33)
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col. 1:17)
What about Scriptures revealing his personal relations to us? The entire Bible is about that. The greatest example is the Incarnation:
Here is Jesus as the preincarnate Word:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
Then the eternal Word relates to us in the next verses:
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:4, 14)
So how I get to know God more deeply?
We have put God in a human box. We do that because we do not break out of our human limitations. We do it because of Jesus coming down to earth and being a human, so we can overlook the theological and biblical truth that God is infinite. But the infinity of God teaches us that he is much bigger than we can conceive or imagine. God is bigger than our box—than our universe, even if it is pictured as an expanding box. God is not limited or bounded by our minds or imaginations or anything at all.
As the personal, infinite God relates to us, he reveals to us through Scripture quotes above that he is bigger than our problems—bigger than your search for a job, bigger than anxiety over your family member who is not committed to Christ, bigger than your grief over the passing of your beloved relative. God is boundless and limitless. God will see you through your problems and needs.
God is inexhaustible. His love can never be exhausted. True, sometimes he has to judge, but for those who repent his mercy is inexhaustible. Financially and materially, there are no shortages with God. Therefore his supply is inexhaustible.
Let the notion of God’s infinity sink into you mind, and the anxiety over your problems will disappear. God is infinitely greater than your tiny, finite problem.
Written by James Malcolm
ARTICLES IN THE SERIES “DO I REALLY KNOW GOD?”
Do I Really Know God? He Is Infinite and Personal