Book Review: “The Presence of God”

In 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.

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