God’s Omnipotence Surely Unlimited and Absolute.
That the Lord is truly omnipotent, almighty, is already implied in the names which the Scriptures ascribe to Him. He is El and Elohim, the mighty God and the God Who is alone worthy to be feared and to receive all adoration and praise. Scripture also speaks of Him as El Shaddai, the Almighty One, Who is not merely the mightiest but the almighty, the alone strong and mighty One. Or, we read of Him as Adonai (Lord) ; this name implies that the Lord, as the Creator and Possessor of all the earth, has the sole right to command, and man has none other calling but to obey. Hence, this name also signifies that the Lord is surely able to enforce His demands and execute His will. And, familiar, I am sure, to most of us is the name, El Tsebaoth (Lord of hosts), unto Whom are subject all the hosts of heaven and earth, also the hosts of angels and the starry heavens, and who is therefore exalted over all.
In Jeremiah 32:18 we read of the Lord as the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, “Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children, after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is His name”; Job declares of Him in Job 9:4: “He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against Him, and hath prospered?”; in Deut. 7:21 Moses comforts Israel with the words: “Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the Lord thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.”; in Isaiah 1:24 we read: “Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease Me of Mine adversaries, and avenge Me of Mine enemies:”; in Job 36:5 the writer declares: “Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: He is mighty ill strength and wisdom.”; in Psalm 24:7-10 occur the well-known, words: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.”; in Matt. 11:25 our Lord Jesus Christ speaks of the Lord as “Father, Lord of heaven and earth.”; and in Rev. 1:8 we read: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, Which is, and Which was, and Which is to come, the Almighty.” All of Holy Writ speaks of the Lord as the King of kings and Lord of lords, the great King, the Lord Almighty, the blessed and only Potentate, Who alone possesses authority and supreme majesty, Who alone rules and does all things according to the counsel of His will.
As the Almighty God He is the Creator of heaven and earth. Such is the continuous testimony, first of all, of our Confessions. We read in our Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 9, in answer to the question, “What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?”: “That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them: who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence) is for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father; on Whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body: and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage; for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being a faithful Father.” And Article 12 of our Confession of Faith declares: “We believe that the Father, by the Word, that is, by His Son, hath created of nothing, the heaven, the earth, and all creatures, as it seemed good unto Him, giving unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices to serve its Creator. That He doth also still uphold and govern them by His eternal providence, and infinite power, for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve his God. He also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect; some of whom are fallen from that excellency in which God created them, into everlasting perdition; and the others have, by the grace of God, remained steadfast and continued in their primitive state. The devils and evil spirits are so depraved, that they are enemies of God, and every good thing, to the utmost of their power, as murderers, watching to ruin the Church and every member thereof, and by their wicked stratagems to destroy all; and are, therefore, by their own wickedness, adjudged to eternal damnation, daily expecting their horrible torments. Therefore we reject and abhor the error of the Sadducees, who deny the existence of Spirits and angels: and also that of the Manichees, who assert that the devils have their origin of themselves, and that they are wicked of their own nature, without having been corrupted.” And that the Lord is the Creator of all is also the constant testimony of the Scriptures, as e.g., in Gen. 1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, f.f.”; in Is. 42:5: “Thus saith God the Lord, He hath created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; He that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:”—in Is. 44:24: “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things: that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself;”—in Is. 45:12: “I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.”—in verse 18: “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.”—in Is. 48:13: “Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.”—in Is. 51:13: “And forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?”—and in Zech. 12:1: “The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, Which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.” Moreover, the Lord also maintains their ordinances. This, e.g., is taught us in various passages in the prophecy of Jeremiah, as in Jer. 5:2: “Fear ye not Me? saith the Lord: will ye not tremble at My presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?—in Jer. 10:10: “But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting king: at His wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide His indignation.”—in Jer. 14:22: “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles, that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not Thou He, O Lord our God? therefore we will wait upon Thee: for Thou hast made all these things.”—in Jer. 27:5: “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me.”—in Jer. 31:35: “Thus saith the Lord, Which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, Which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is His name.” And in Amos 4:13 we are told: “For, lo, He that formeth the mountains and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that mak- eth the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is His name.”
As the Omnipotent One the Lord has absolute control of all things, also the powers of evil. He renders dumb and enables one to speak, kills and makes alive, redeems and destroys. This is the teaching of the Word of God, e.g., in Ex. 4:11: “And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?”—in Deut. 32:39: “See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand.”—I Sam. 2:6: “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.”—in II Kings 5:7: “And it came to pass when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.”—in Exodus 15,—in Deut. 26:8, Deut. 29:2, Deut. 32:12: “And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders . . . And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land . . . So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.” —in I Sam. 14:6: “And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these. uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us; for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.”—in Hosea 13:14: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plague: O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes.”—in Matt. 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”—and in Luke 12:20: “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”
Also, nothing can resist the Lord. This, too, is verified by Holy Writ, as, e.g., in the Psalms 8, 18, 19, 29, 33, 104, Job 1, 2, 5:9-27, and in Rom. 9:19-21: “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will? Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the things formed say to him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”
Again, nothing is too wonderful for Him, all things are possible for and by Him. Also this truth is everywhere taught in the Scriptures, as, e.g., in Gen. 18:14: “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”—in Jer. 32:27: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?”—in Zech. 8:6: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in Mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts.”—in Matt. 19:26: “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”—Luke 1:37: “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” And, according to Is. 45:8 the Lord created the day and the night, the light and the darkness, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”
The Lord also does all His good pleasure. This, too, is taught throughout Scripture, as e.g., in Psalm 115:3: “But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.”—in Is. 14:24: “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.”—and in verse 27: “For the Lord of hosts purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” —and in Is. 46:10 this remarkable passage: “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.”—and in Is. 55:10-11: “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I send it.”
And, finally, none can summon Him. This is the teaching of the Word of God in Jer. 49:19 where we read: “Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like Me? and who will appoint Me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before Me?” This same thought is expressed in Jer. 50:44.
Above All, His Power Is Revealed In The Works Of Redemption.
This almighty power the living God revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, according to Scripture, Rom. 1:4 and Eph. 1:20: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead . . . Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.” This divine power is also revealed in the operation and the strengthening of faith, according to Rom. 16:25 and Eph. 1:19: “Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to My gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, . . . And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” Moreover, the living God reveals His mighty power in the giving of grace above what we pray and think, as we read in Eph. 3:20: “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”, or in II Cor. 9:8: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work,” and in II Pet. 1:3: “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” And, the almighty God will finally reveal His almighty power in the resurrection at the last day, according to the Word of God in John 5:26-29: “For as the Father hath life in Himself: so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”
In one word, His is the power, Psalm 62:11: “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God,” and unto Him must be ascribed all the power and the strength, according to Ps. 96:7: “Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength,” in Rev. 4:11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created,” in Rev. 5:12-13: “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever,” and in Rev. 7:12 and Rev. 19:1: “Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen . . . And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia;
Salvation, and glory, and honour and power unto the Lord our God.”
God Is Almighty, Able To Do All Things, But In Harmony With His Being And Will.
Some have defined the power of God thus that God not only can do all He wills, but that He can also will anything and everything. And the attempts have been made in the past to prove that He can do anything, also in the sense that He can effect contradictions, etc. God, then, is able to sin, suffer, err, can become a stone or an animal, can perform contradictory things, can make false that which is true, true that which is false, etc. Also, in connection with the omnipotence of God, the question has been discussed at length whether God’s power is limited to His counsel, to the things, therefore, which shall happen, or whether the power of the Lord also extends beyond His decree or counsel. Is the power of God limited to what He actually accomplishes, or can He also do other things than the things which actually occur?
In answer to the above questions, we would answer, in the first place, that the Scripture surely speaks of many things which the Lord cannot do. The Lord cannot lie, repent, change, be tempted, deny Himself. Secondly, it is surely Scriptural that the power of the living God extends beyond that which is actually realized. Christian theology according to H. Bavinck, have always clung to this opinion. This is based upon passages such as Jer. 32:27 and Matt. 19:26, where we read: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me? . . . But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” And, thirdly, to speculate as to what God can do above and beyond His counsel is surely idle speculation. Fact is, the Lord, in that counsel, was prompted by the virtue of the greatest and highest wisdom. The counsel is surely the expression of that greatest wisdom of God. In that counsel the Lord willed the glory of His Name, as revealed in Jesus Christ, His Son and our Lord. Also, in that counsel sin, the devil, and all the power of evil and darkness have been comprehended. And, with respect to the realization of that counsel, in harmony with the perfections of His eternal and infinite Being, God’s power is surely absolute, so that He does not merely rule over all things and creatures, but also actually uses all things as instruments in His hand unto the realization of His eternal counsel and kingdom. And it is because of this supremely comforting truth that the Church of God can exclaim with the apostle, Paul: “Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto Him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be glory for ever. Amen.”