Monday, 11 November 2013

Thoughts on God's Power (1)

The term that theologians employ to describe this attribute of God is ‘omnipotence’, which means ‘all powerful’; it means the same as ‘almighty’. It is commonly mentioned along with two other ‘omnis’, that is, his omniscience (all knowledge) and his omnipresence (present everywhere). Usually, omnipresence is included among God’s incommunicable attributes (those that we cannot have because we are creatures – attributes such as eternity) rather than his communicable attributes (those that we can have in a measure, such as his love or holiness).

There are two problems with this manner of classification. First, it suggests that some attributes of God are greater than others whereas in reality each of them is infinite, eternal and unchangeable. Second, it is not clear what is meant by incommunicable and communicable: on the one hand, God’s love is regarded as communicable, but no human can comprehend the fullness of that love, which means that its entirety is incommunicable; on the other hand, God’s power is regarded as incommunicable, yet we can experience some of his power, which means that aspects of it are communicable. Personally, I would suggest that we do not attempt to classify God’s attributes in this way. Because we are made in the image of God, we have access to all God’s attributes and reflect them according to our individual abilities and interests and needs. We can experience his love and his power, his holiness and his presence, his compassion and his knowledge.

When we speak of God’s omnipotence, we mean that God is capable of doing all that he wishes. Of course, there are some things that God cannot do. For example, God’s omnipotence cannot make two and two become three or five. Further, God cannot do anything against his own nature; none of his attributes act independently of the others.

God’s power is linked closely to his wisdom, which means that God always does what is best; it is also linked to his holiness, which means that he always does what is pure; it is connected to his justice, which means that he always does what is right; and it is connected to his love, which means he always does what his for the good of his people. We could detail all of God’s attributes and mention how they direct the exercising of his power.

A. W. Tozer summarised God’s omnipotence as follows: ‘Since he has at his command all the power in the universe, the Lord God omnipotent can do anything as easily as anything else. All his acts are done without effort. He expands no energy that must be replenished. His self-sufficiency makes it unnecessary for him to look outside of himself for a renewal of strength. All the power required to do all that he wills to do lies in undiminished fullness in his own infinite being.’

Everything that happens is evidence of God’s power, of his sovereign control of all things. The power of God is revealed in the creation and maintaining of the universe, in his supreme control of human history, and in the working out of his plan of salvation.

As we think of all that God has done, we must remember that he has never yet used all his power. We will consider next time various features of his acts of power, yet we should remember he could have done a lot more had he chosen to do so, especially in the work of creation.

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