Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Some thoughts on God's omnipotence

Romans 11:36 "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."

The last couple of posts have introduced the reader to God's attributes of omniscience and omnipresence. In those introductions we have also taken time to consider what we mean when we speak of God's attributes. It must be underscored once again that God is the sum of all His attributes. In saying such a thing, if I speak for instance of God being omniscient, I necessarily assume and include His other equally infinite characteristics. In other words, within the "ray" if you will of God's omniscience I also glimpse shining forth within and from His essence His other qualities. 

Such attributes function as His energies that lead the worshiper to know of but to never comprehend God in His essence. Although this blogger doesn't subscribe to everything taught within the branch of Christendom known as the "Eastern Orthodox" church, yet there are nuggets that one can find in their writings. The contemporary Eastern Orthodox theologian, Bishop Kallistos Ware, writes concerning God's essence and energies: "By the essence of God is meant His otherness, by the energies His nearness. Because God is mystery beyond our understanding, we shall never know His essence or inner being, either in this life or the age to come. If we knew the Divine essence, it would follow that we knew God in the same way as He knows himself; and this we cannot never do, since He is Creator and we are created. But, while God's inner essence is forever beyond our comprehension, his energies, grace, life and power fill the whole universe, and are directly accessible to us." Certain scriptural passages bear out the truth spoken of by the Bishop (Jude 1:24-25)

Indeed to know God and yet not comprehend Him in all His fullness of Being or essence sets the inaccessible boundary of distinction between God and His creation. Thankfully, scripture reveals that such a boundary, though ever distinguishing God from us, nonetheless was crossed by God in the Person of the Son by way of His incarnation. If God had not come in the Person of Jesus, then in one respect, we would know God only by His energies mentioned above. For the Christian, God is truly known by the incarnation of the Son in Jesus of Nazareth. 

God is not some remote object that would leave us at best in some sort of odd agnosticism, whereby we would know there is a God and yet could never say whether or not we can ever know anything about Him. Yet, as Bishop Ware notes in his same book: "Jesus Christ is our window into the Divine realm, showing us what God is. "No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has made Him known to us." 

Today's post aims to introduce the reader to the third major attribute of God mentioned in Psalm 139: God's omnipotence.

God is Omnipotent. Psalm 139:13-16
In the nature of the consistent portrait of God revealed in the Bible, we find that in talking about the plurality of His identity, we once again are brought back to the oneness of His being. All the pronouns for "you" in these verses are singular, demonstrating that the Psalmist here is talking about One God. This One God is all powerful (also called "Omnipotent"). God in His omnipotence has the ability to penetrate time, space and to orchestrate all things. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit share this ability equally and without division.

A.W Tozer in his seminal book: "The Knowledge of the Holy" writes concerning God's omnipotence: "Sovereignty and omnipotence must go together. Once cannot exist without the other. To reign, God must have power, and to reign sovereignly, He must have all power. And that is what omnipotence means, having all power." 

As we consider God's omnipotence spelled out in Psalm 139:13-16, we can note the following:

a. God demonstrates His omnipotence in the realm of life. Psalm 139:13-16a.
The mystery of life's origin demands a supernatural, rather than a natural origin. Only an omnipotent Creator could act in and through the secondary means of human reproduction to ignite human conscience, intelligence and personality. God's omnipotence also extends down into the atomic and sub-atomic realms (Colossians 1:13-16). The interactions between sub-atomic particles and the complex quantum mechanical laws and equations to explain such phenomena testify to the far-reaching power of Almighty God. God's omnipotence reaches the mid-sized created realm of human beings as well as the sub-atomic realm of the very small. 

b. God's omnipotence extends over the vast stretches of the universe and history. Psalm 139:16b
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 139:16b 
"And in Your book were all writtenThe days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them." God's omnipotence extends over the vast stretches of the cosmos. Time and space itself lie under His Providence. To govern time is to govern space and henceforth all that lies within the universe, humanity, life and all things. God and God alone wields such influence. For the Psalmist to acknowledge God's omniscience with respect to His knowledge of the future is to acknowledge His omnipotence and omnipresence as well. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 notes: "God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures." 

Closing thoughts
In bringing the true practical meaning of this attribute home to the Christian, Tozer writes: "Omnipotence is not a name given to the sum of all power, but an attribute of a personal God whom we Christians believe to be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and of all who believe on Him to eternal life. The worshiping man finds this knowledge as source of wonderful strength for his inner life. His faith rises to take the great leap upward into the fellowship of Him who can do whatever He wills to do, for whom nothing is hard or difficult because He possesses power absolute." God's omnipotence is only bounded by God's nature. We must recall that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) nor be wrong (John 17:17) nor ever be unfaithful to His people (Hebrews 13:5), which is why on pains of His nature we assert the infallibility and inerrancy of the scriptures as He originally revealed. Nothing in the created realm limits God. He and He alone is God. Let us then worship Him today that is the One, omnipotent Creator, Redeemer and Ruler of the universe. 

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