Tuesday, August 17

God's Power

For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. (Romans 1:20 NET)

Although there are statements about God's power throughout scripture, we don't need the revelation of scripture to know of it, for creation itself is a clear witness of to the power of God. Every person who views creation knows that its origin was at the hand of an unfathomably powerful God, and anyone who denies this is doing so by suppressing knowledge that they already have. Every single person knows, deep down somewhere, that there is a God who possesses eternal power, and they are choosing, on some level, to fool themselves into believing otherwise.

And not only did God create the world by His power, we know from scripture that the created order is maintained "by the word of his power (Hebrews 1)." The universe keeps on existing and keeps on functioning due to the constant exertion of the power of God. God spoke the universe into existence and he speaks its continued existence.

That God is omnipotent means that he has the power to execute his will. The statement from Psalm 115 that tells us that God does whatever he pleases is a statement about God's omnipotence. So is the statement in Ephesians 1 that tells us that God works all things after the counsel of His will. What God decides to do comes about with certainty because he has the power to accomplish whatever he wills.

If God desired, he could do more than he actually does. His power would permit him to raise up children of Abraham from stones, but God chooses not to work that way (Matthew 3). He had the power to free Jesus from the multitude that took him, for Jesus tells us that he could have called upon the Father, and he would have sent more than twelve legions of angels to rescue him (Matthew 26:53), but God's will was to accomplish something else—something that had already been declared in scripture (Matthew 26:54).

That God is omnipotent doesn't mean that he can do absolutely anything at all. We are told that God cannot lie, he cannot sin, and he cannot deny himself. What keeps him from doing those things, however, is not lack of power, but steadfastness of character. It is God's constant righteousness, not a shortage of power, that determines that certain actions will never be taken by him.

Absolutely everyone knows God's power through the witness of creation, but those of us who belong to him have another witness of his power. We know "what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe" (Ephesians 1:19ff). The unsurpassable power that called Lazarus from the tomb and raised Jesus from the dead has also "called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

This means that we have no excuses. We cannot claim weakness, for while it is true that we are weak, the same power that raised Jesus dwells within us. The power of the resurrection is ours for our sanctification. It is by the work of the One who accomplishes all that He wills that we are becoming righteous, and it is through the power of the One who accomplishes all that he pleases that we are overwhelming conquerors in all these things. We have no excuse to not do the works of our salvation, for it is this omnipotent God who is working in us, "both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

God's "power toward us who believe" means that we have security despite our weaknesses. The God who spoke the universe into existence, who sustains it by his word, who raised Christ from the dead, and who is always, ever working all things according to the counsel of his will, keeps us by his power. The God of all ability is on our side. Who can stand against us?

...neither death nor life,
nor angels nor principalities nor powers,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor height nor depth,
nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38,39)

The limitlessness of God's power is one more reason for us to trust in him.