Monday, 11 November 2013

Thoughts on God's Power (3) - In Salvation

In a sense, this is part of the work of God's providence, because salvation also occurs under God’s control. There are many aspects in which God’s power is seen in salvation, but I will only mention a few of them. 

Firstly, his power was displayed in the person and work of Christ. The formation of Christ’s human nature was an act of divine power (Luke 1:35: ‘And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God’). We also see divine power at work in Christ’s resurrection from the dead when he overcame death. Only God’s power could achieve a virgin birth and a resurrection from the dead.

God’s power is also revealed in Christian experience, which begins at regeneration when the Holy Spirit makes a spiritually dead sinner alive. Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6 likens the new birth to the original physical creation: ‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ Throughout his spiritual journey, each believer is kept by the power of God (1 Pet. 1:5), otherwise spiritual enemies would overcome him. Paul discovered that he could do all things through Christ’s strength (Phil. 4:13). In fighting the devil, each believer has to ‘be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might’ (Eph. 6:10). Concerning the progress in sanctification, Peter writes that God’s ‘divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness’ (2 Pet. 1:3).

And his power will be revealed in the consummation when Jesus returns. By God’s power, all humans will be raised from the dead. By his power, the lost will be judged and kept in the place of condemnation. Through his power, God will renew the universe and bring into existence the new heavens and new earth, and by his power he will maintain it in existence throughout the endless ages.

The knowledge that we have a powerful God should lead us to worship him. Israel was told: ‘But you shall fear the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice’ (2 Kings 17:36). His power is a theme of the heavenly song: ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created’ (Rev. 4:11). A similar song of praise is given to Jesus in the following chapter in Revelation.

God’s power should give us confidence for the growth of the church, for answered prayer, for expectancy of blessing. The apostles were told to wait for power which Jesus would send to them from heaven (Acts 1:8). That same power is still available. Similarly, God is able to answer our prayers because he ‘is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us’ (Eph. 3:20).

The power of God is a comfort for his people in connection to their sense of indwelling sin, answers to prayer and victory over Satan. Arthur W. Pink wrote: ‘Well may the saint trust such a God! He is worthy of implicit confidence. Nothing is too hard for Him. If God were stinted in might and had a limit to His strength we might well despair. But seeing that He is clothed with omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need too great for Him to supply, no passion too strong for Him to subdue, no temptation too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for Him to relieve.’ Stephen Charnock commented: ‘As omnipotence is an ocean that cannot be fathomed, so the comforts from it are streams that cannot be exhausted.’

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