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  • God’s Omnipotence

    By Peter Amsterdam

    Audio length: 8:45
    Download Audio (8MB)

    God, who created all things out of nothing, known as creation ex nihilo, is all-powerful. The traditional word for God’s infinite power is omnipotence, which comes from two Latin words: omni, which means all, and potens, which means power. God has the power to do anything He wills to do.

    In the Old Testament, when God entered into a covenant with Abraham, He said He was el Shaddai, which in Old Testament Hebrew means God Almighty, God the most powerful. El Shaddai is used six times in Genesis and Exodus and once in Ezekiel. Shaddai, meaning Almighty, is used 36 times throughout the Old Testament in reference to God. In the New Testament the Greek word for Almighty, pantokratōr, is used ten times, mostly in the book of Revelation.1

    The name God called Himself when He spoke with Abraham described His omnipotence. “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless.’”2

    Scripture expresses that God has the ability and the absolute power to bring about whatever is His will. “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”3 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?”4

    The awesome power of God is manifested in His creating the universe. The Bible teaches that God created the universe and all that is in it, including our world, out of nothing.5 It says He spoke it into being. “He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.”6

    Theologian Thomas F. Torrance describes the doctrine of creation ex nihilo in this way:

    The creation of the universe out of nothing does not mean the creation of the universe out of something that is nothing, but out of nothing at all. It is not created out of anything—it came into being through the absolute fiat of God’s Word in such a way that whereas previously there was nothing, the whole universe came into being.7

    It’s hard to imagine a greater display of power than creating the world out of nothing! Jeremiah sees creation as being proof that “nothing is too hard” for God.8 The apostle Paul spoke about creation being one way to perceive God’s power and nature:

    “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”9

    In creating the universe, God also created the active and latent power within created things. From the atom to stars and to galaxies, there is power within God’s creation. God has created the universe with natural power that has come from the All-Powerful.10 The natural power of created things is seen in the ordinary working of the world. The sun gives light and heat, plants grow, water evaporates and turns into rain, the planets rotate around the sun, and so forth.

    God’s power is also sometimes seen when He operates outside the ordinary working of nature by performing miracles. He separated a sea so His people could walk through on dry ground11; He sent fire from heaven to consume a sacrifice12; He caused a virgin to conceive a child through the Holy Spirit, who was to be God Incarnate13; when that child grew up, He healed the sick and raised people from the dead14; after He was crucified, God raised Him from the dead and brought Him bodily to heaven.15 These miracles are also evidence of God’s omnipotence.

    God’s power is infinite, meaning that it is without any limits, immeasurable. While Scripture affirms that God can do all things, it also states there are some things God cannot do. He can’t deny Himself by going against His nature and character.16 He can’t lie.17 He can’t be tempted with evil or tempt others with evil.18 He can’t do wickedly or pervert justice. He won’t violate His righteousness.

    When the Bible says God is Almighty and can do anything, it should be understood that God can do anything which is consistent with His nature and character.

    Theologian J. Rodman Williams explains it this way:

    This is not omnipotence in the sense of sheer power. For the God who is Almighty is the God whose character is holiness, love, and truth. Therefore, He does, and will do, only those things that are in harmony with who He is. To say it is impossible for God to do wrong or evil does not limit His omnipotence any more than, for example, to say it is impossible for God to will His own nonexistence. These are moral and logical contradictions to the very being and nature of Almighty God. In the scripture, over and over, God’s omnipotence is associated with His character.19

    Besides not going against His nature and character, God can’t do things that are logical impossibilities. For example, God can’t make a square circle. He can’t make 5 plus 5 equal 11. These are logically impossible.

    When explaining God’s omnipotence in relation to logical impossibilities, William Lane Craig says:

    Can God do things that are logically impossible? For example, could God make a square circle? Could God make a married bachelor? Could God bring it about that Jesus both came and died on the cross, and that He did not come and die on the cross? Could God make a round triangle? … Indeed, when you think about it, these really aren’t things at all. There isn’t any such thing as a married bachelor. There’s no such thing as a round triangle. These are just combinations of words which when put together are incoherent combinations. They are just logical contradictions. Therefore to say that God cannot do logical contradictions is not to say there is something that God can’t do, because these aren’t really things at all, and thus to say that God can’t bring about a logical contradiction is not really to inhibit God’s omnipotence at all.20

    God’s omnipotence is an important factor that builds our faith in Him, as He is not someone who makes claims and promises which He does not have the power to perform. God has the power to deliver on what He has promised. He promised that through Abraham the whole world would be blessed21; that David’s seed and line would be eternal22; that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem,23 would suffer and die for the sins of mankind.24 He delivered. He prophesied events centuries in advance; they came true. When we read His promises to us, we can put our weight down on what He has said, as He is the all-powerful Creator and sustainer of the universe and all that is in it. He who is infinite power is our Father, and we are His children. We are safe within His arms.

    Originally published June 2012. Excerpted and republished October 2019.
    Read by Jon Marc.


    1 Revelation 11:17.

    2 Genesis 17:1.

    3 Matthew 19:26.

    4 Jeremiah 32:27.

    5 See Genesis 1.

    6 Psalm 33:9.

    7 Thomas F. Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1996), 207.

    8 Jeremiah 32:17.

    9 Romans 1:19–20.

    10 Psalm 62:11.

    11 Exodus 14:21–22.

    12 1 Kings 18:38–39.

    13 Luke 1:26–35.

    14 John 11:41–44.

    15 Acts 5:30–31.

    16 2 Timothy 2:13.

    17 Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18.

    18 James 1:13.

    19 J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology, Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 71.

    20 William Lane Craig, The Doctrine of God, Defenders Series Lecture 9.

    21 Genesis 12:1–3.

    22 2 Samuel 7:12–13, 16.

    23 Micah 5:2.

    24 Isaiah 53:3–6.

  • Oct 15 The Face of God
  • Oct 11 God Could Have Left Job Alone
  • Oct 9 Open and Closed Doors
  • Oct 8 Drawing Near to God
  • Oct 4 A Vision of the Rapture
  • Oct 2 Jars of Clay
  • Sep 30 Choosing the Good
  • Sep 25 The Stillness of Nature
  • Sep 23 Life-changing Forgiveness
   

Directors’ Corner

News, writings and thoughts from TFI Directors

  • Jesus—His Life and Message: The Father and the Son (Part 3)

    At the end of the previous article, we read that Jesus stated, The works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.1 Earlier in this chapter, He had said, My Father is working until now, and I am working,2 which was the reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.3

    Throughout this chapter (John 5), Jesus made reference to His close connection to the Father. At this point, He reinforced the statement that the Father had sent Him by saying,

    The Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.4

    Jesus hadn’t only testified of Himself, but His Father bore witness of Him, which met the Old Testament criteria of having more than one witness to verify the truth.5

    Jesus then pointed out that the Jews who were persecuting Him because He had healed people on the Sabbath had never heard God’s voice or seen His form. They all would have agreed that they had never seen God’s form. Earlier in this Gospel we read,

    No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.6

    However, Jesus’ statement that they had never heard God’s voice would have been rejected by those who were seeking to kill Him. Their forefathers had heard God’s voice at Mount Sinai.

    The LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.7

    Elsewhere we read that when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”8

    While their ancestors had heard God’s voice, Jesus pointed out that those seeking to kill Him had not. God was speaking through Jesus at the time, but if they would not hear Him, then they could not hear the Father. God’s Word was not “dwelling in” them because they had rejected Jesus’ words. Because they did not believe the one whom the Father had sent, they did not hear God’s voice.

    You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.9

    The King James Version translates the first words as a command, Search the scriptures,10 meaning that Jesus was telling them they should study the Scriptures as that was where they would find the path to eternal life. Most other Bible versions translate it as a statement of fact, You search the Scriptures, meaning that they did search the Scriptures, thinking that in doing so they would have eternal life. The original Greek can be translated either way, but the context seems to favor the second option, that it’s a statement of fact.

    Jesus was stating that they studied the Scriptures, as they thought that in doing so they had eternal life. Yet, they were wrong, as Jesus had already told them how to obtain eternal life—and that it didn’t come from searching the Scriptures but rather by believing the Son and the Father who sent Him.

    Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.11

    They did search the Scripture, but because they were unwilling to accept Jesus’ message, they were unable to properly understand what Scripture taught. Those who did believe came to understand that the Old Testament pointed to Jesus. For example, earlier in this Gospel, Philip said to Nathanael,

    “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”12

    In the Gospel of Luke we’re told that after Jesus’ resurrection, He explained to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus why it was necessary that He suffer and die:

    Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.13

    Throughout the Gospel of John, we find reference to Jesus fulfilling what the Old Testament had spoken about Him at least nine times.14

    Many of those who claimed to believe what Scripture taught, who were willing to rejoice for a while in his [John’s] light,15 refused to become believers in Jesus. Had they truly understood Scripture, they would have recognized the truth of Jesus’ claims; instead, they were antagonistic and set themselves against Him. One author explains:

    It is not unlike Luke 13:34, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” There is the same thought of tender eagerness to save, met by a stubborn refusal to be saved.16

    Jesus then said,

    I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.17

    He wasn’t concerned about receiving honor or recognition based on the approval of the crowds. His focus was not on pleasing people, but rather on pleasing His Father. As such, He did not accept praise and recognition from others. He also didn’t care what His accusers thought of Him. At the same time, He insinuated that His adversaries did receive glory from people, and this comes up a few verses later.

    Jesus knew what was in their hearts. Earlier in this Gospel we’re told that He did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.18 Here He made the point that they didn’t have the love of God within themselves, meaning that they didn’t love God. As He’d said at a different time,

    The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.19

    They claimed to love God, but in truth they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.20

    I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?21 

    Jesus came in His Father’s name, yet His opponents didn’t accept Him, meaning that they rejected Him. This isn’t the first time in this Gospel where we read that the people didn’t receive Him.

    He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.22

    He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony.23

    Jesus took it a step further by stating that those who were rejecting the one who came in the Father’s name were rejecting the Father who sent Him. Jesus represented the Father.

    The Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me.24 

    Thus they were rejecting God, the one they professed to love. Jesus further stated that they would accept someone who would come in his own name and speak on his own authority, yet wouldn’t listen to Him, God’s “only Son.”25

    This confrontation had started much earlier in this chapter:

    This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.26

    In calling God His Father, Jesus was claiming equality with God, which His accusers considered to be false and a challenge to Jewish monotheism. Jesus referred to His Father as the “only God” when He said, How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?27 The titles the only God and the only one were interchangeable titles for God the Father. Elsewhere in this Gospel Jesus, the Son, is referred to as the one and only (in some Bible translations) and the one and only Son.28 Jesus’ glory as the only begotten Son, the one and only Son, comes from the Father, the only God. His uniqueness as the one and only Son is rooted in His Father’s uniqueness as the only God. As such, when His opponents dishonor the Son, they dishonor the Father who sent him.29

    Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?30

    Jesus’ accusers prided themselves in their knowledge of Scripture, which Jesus had addressed earlier (v. 39). They were also proud of their connection to Moses, who was the lawgiver, the one God used to give them the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. Jesus had earlier stated that they search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life.31 Here He stated something similar, as Moses was the author of those Scriptures. And Moses, through the Scriptures that God had given through him, also accused them through the very Scriptures that they felt saved them.

    Jesus acknowledged that they set their hope in Moses, and at the same time stated that they did not believe him. If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. Those Jesus was speaking to in this chapter didn’t truly believe in Moses’ writings; if they had, they would have recognized Jesus as the one whom Moses foretold would come. Instead, they rejected Him.

    Throughout this chapter, Jesus’ pointed out that He did not only bear witness of Himself but that there were others who did so. The Father did (v. 32, 37), John the Baptist did (v. 33), and Scripture did (v. 39). Yet in spite of all this, His opponents were unwilling to come to Him that they might have life.32 Because they didn’t truly believe the Scriptures that they had received through Moses, they didn’t receive Jesus’ word; and thus they did not have eternal life.


    Note

    Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


    General Bibliography

    Bailey, Kenneth E. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

    Biven, David. New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus. Holland: En-Gedi Resource Center, 2007.

    Bock, Darrell L. Jesus According to Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.

    Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 1: 1:1–9:50. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1994.

    Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 2: 9:51–24:53. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1996.

    Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

    Brown, Raymond E. The Death of the Messiah. 2 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

    Carson, D. A. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987.

    Charlesworth, James H., ed. Jesus’ Jewishness, Exploring the Place of Jesus Within Early Judaism. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997.

    Chilton, Bruce, and Craig A. Evans, eds. Authenticating the Activities of Jesus. Boston: Koninklijke Brill, 1999.

    Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993.

    Elwell, Walter A., ed. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988.

    Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

    Evans, Craig A. World Biblical Commentary: Mark 8:27–16:20. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000.

    Evans, Craig A., and N. T. Wright. Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.

    Flusser, David. Jesus. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1998.

    Flusser, David, and R. Steven Notely. The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

    France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

    Gnilka, Joachim. Jesus of Nazareth: Message and History. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.

    Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.

    Green, Joel B., and Scot McKnight, eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

    Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

    Guelich, Robert A. World Biblical Commentary: Mark 1–8:26. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1989.

    Jeremias, Joachim. The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990.

    Jeremias, Joachim. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1996.

    Jeremias, Joachim. Jesus and the Message of the New Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.

    Jeremias, Joachim. New Testament Theology. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971.

    Jeremias, Joachim. The Prayers of Jesus. Norwich: SCM Press, 1977.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume 1. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume 2. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009.

    Lewis, Gordon R., and Bruce A. Demarest. Integrative Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

    Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976.

    Manson, T. W. The Sayings of Jesus. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957.

    Manson, T. W. The Teaching of Jesus. Cambridge: University Press, 1967.

    McKnight, Scot. Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

    Michaels, J. Ramsey. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

    Milne, Bruce. The Message of John. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

    Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.

    Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992.

    Morris, Leon. Luke. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

    Ott, Ludwig. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1960.

    Pentecost, J. Dwight. The Words & Works of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.

    Sanders, E. P. Jesus and Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.

    Sheen, Fulton J. Life of Christ. New York: Doubleday, 1958.

    Spangler, Ann, and Lois Tverberg. Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

    Stassen, Glen H., and David P. Gushee. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2003.

    Stein, Robert H. Jesus the Messiah. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

    Stein, Robert H. Mark. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.

    Stein, Robert H. The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.

    Stott, John R. W. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978.

    Talbert, Charles H. Reading the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004.

    Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

    Witherington, Ben, III. The Christology of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.

    Witherington, Ben, III. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001.

    Wood, D. R. W., I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman, eds. New Bible Dictionary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

    Wright, N. T. After You Believe. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2010.

    Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

    Wright, N. T. Matthew for Everyone, Part 1. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.

    Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.

    Yancey, Philip. The Jesus I Never Knew. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.

    Young, Brad H. Jesus the Jewish Theologian. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1995.


    1 John 5:36.

    2 John 5:17.

    3 John 5:18.

    4 John 5:37–38.

    5 Deuteronomy 19:15.

    6 John 1:18.

    7 Deuteronomy 4:12.

    8 Exodus 20:18–19.

    9 John 5:39–40. 

    10 John 5:39 KJV.

    11 John 5:24.

    12 John 1:45.

    13 Luke 24:25–27.

    14 John 2:17; 12:14–15; 13:18; 15:25; 19:24, 28, 36, 37; 20:8–9.

    15 John 5:35.

    16 Morris, The Gospel According to John, 293.

    17 John 5:41–42.

    18 John 2:24–25.

    19 John 3:19.

    20 John 12:43.

    21 John 5:43–44.

    22 John 1:11.

    23 John 3:31–32.

    24 John 5:37.

    25 John 3:16.

    26 John 5:18.

    27 John 5:43–44.

    28 The one and only: John 1:14, 18 NIV; The one and only Son: John 3:16, 18 NIV.

    29 John 5:23.

    30 John 5:45–47.

    31 John 5:39.

    32 John 5:40.

     

  • Oct 8 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Father and the Son (Part 2)
  • Oct 1 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Father and the Son (Part 1)
  • Sep 24 Life Balance Check, Part 3: Exercise
  • Sep 17 Living Christianity: The Ten Commandments (Safeguarding Human Life, Part 6)
  • Sep 14 Exploring the Wonders—Psalm 104
  • Sep 10 Living Christianity: The Ten Commandments (Safeguarding Human Life, Part 6)
  • Sep 3 More Like Jesus: Reflections on Self-Control and Honesty
  • Aug 27 Life Balance Check, Part 2: Health
  • Aug 20 Life Balance Check, Part 1: Time with the Lord
   

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