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May
04

The Omnipotence of God

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“Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes.” Psalm 115:3 (NLT)

The word omnipotence is derived from Latin: omni, meaning “all,” and potens, meaning “power(ful).” As a child, I learned to describe omnipotence by saying things like “God can do anything,” or that “God is all powerful.”

But to say that God can do anything is incomplete. It invites silly questions like “If God is almighty, then can he make a rock so big that even he can’t pick it up?” It invites illogical questions like, “Is yellow square or round?” or “How many hours are in a mile?” It also invites misguided questions, like “If God can do anything, why doesn’t he eliminate evil, injustice, suffering, illness, poverty, homelessness, etc.?”

A fuller definition of omnipotence would say that “God is able to do all his holy will.” This definition adds a moral dimension to the power of God. God is able to do all that he wills or purposes to do. He has complete freedom within his own purpose, and he always behaves in ways that are consistent with his character.

For example, Titus 1:2 says that “God cannot lie.” It doesn’t say God doesn’t lie. He cannot lie because it would be inconsistent with his character. Take another example. Suppose you had $20 and were also 21 years old. You have the power and freedom to purchase alcohol. But would you buy alcohol for a minor? If you wouldn’t, it would be because that action would be inconsistent with your character. Your personal power and freedom is governed by a moral compass.

So what is the extent of God’s power? God’s power is best understood in two dimensions.
The first dimension is evidenced in his strength or might. God acts without effort. He expends energy without needing replenishment. Isaiah 40:28 reads, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary.” A.W. Tozer describes it this way, “God gives power without giving away power.” God is self sufficient. He does not need to look outside of himself for anything. He is unlimited and infinite. Stephen Charnock writes, “His power is such that he can do whatever he pleases without difficulty or resistance; he cannot be checked, restrained, or frustrated.”

The second dimension of God’s power is seen in his absolute freedom. God never needs permission. He is totally unrestrained and knows no restrictions. One of the reasons we possess physical bodies is to limit our will. Imagine what you would do or could do if your will was unrestrained by a body that needed rest, sleep, and food? As American citizens we experience more freedom than most people in the world, but our freedom appears as bondage compared to the complete freedom that God enjoys.

Categories : God

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