How strong is your God? I have found myself in conversation quite a few times recently discussing God’s omnipotence: His power. His control. His sovereignty. The very essence of his godliness.
There is a foundation for our misconceptions about God. Paul discusses this in great detail:
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”
– Rom 1.20-23
God has revealed Himself through his creation (Rom 1.20) and also through conscience (Rom 2.15) such that all people are without excuse for sin. The Gospel is not revealed in creation and thus one cannot be saved by conviction of creation or conscience alone, but the understanding of one’s sinful state is revealed such that no one is without excuse before God. All are guilty. And the first step of not regarding God in His “eternal power and divine nature” is to exchange His glory for the image of a man or a creature. We worship the creature rather than the Creator (Rom 1.25).
We create our own gods.
Some cultures make them out of wood, brass, gold, etc: literal idols that are set up and bowed before and worshiped. Some cultures worship the self. Some cultures define ethereal entities that are without form but with human or man-determined attributes.
When we come to know and love God through faith, it is a temptation to assume attributes about God that are not Biblical. We all approach God with our own personality dispositions, cultural inclinations and worldview assumptions. The mark of a true believer is one who is willing to check all presuppositions at the door and humbly submit to what God has to say about Himself in His Word: The Bible.
And one of those characteristics is omnipotence. The church has maintained the belief in God’s almighty power with minimal resistance since Christ ascended back to Heaven. Any variance from this belief was quickly determined as heresy and removed from the church. The prefix omni means “all” or “universally”. So we understand that God is all-powerful, universally-powerful. He is in control and he can do whatever he wants.
A synonym for omnipotence is sovereignty. Sovereignty most often is used in a political sense that a nation would be sovereign: having completely control, no outside power has authority over it. Power. An autonomous state, a controlling influence.
“See now that I, I am He,
And there is no god besides Me;
It is I who put to death and give life.
I have wounded and it is I who heal,
And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.”
– Deut 32.39
“The LORD kills and makes alive;
He brings down to Sheol and raises up.”
– 1 Sam 2.6
“I am the LORD, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating evil;
I am the LORD who does all these.”
– Is 45.5-7
The Bible is full of declarations of God’s sovereignty. These passages are a few that stand out to me because it is God telling us about Himself. These are direct quotes from the creator and sustainer of the universe as to who and what He is.
Perhaps one of the most commonly quoted and memorized scriptures in all of the Bible is Jeremiah 29.11:
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’.”
The reason that promise is so comforting is because He is in control. He has a perfect plan. He has known the end since before the beginning. He is not up in Heaven waiting in anticipation to see what is going to happen. He is not cleaning up the messes that we make to use them “for good” after the fact. He is not responsive to anything that happens. He is the cause.
We see this repeatedly throughout Scripture that God had a plan and man had moral responsibility. At the same time. Think about Joseph. God gave him a dream that he would one day rule over his family. His brothers sold him into slavery because of that dream, and in captivity God raised Joseph up to be second in command over all of Egypt. When Joseph finally, years later, saw his family again he said:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”
– Gen 50.20
It was God’s plan all along.
God’s plan of redemption for humanity was written and completed before He even said “Let there be light” (Gen 1.3). Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 13.8), God verbalized his plan at the moment of sin (Gen 3.15) and it was God who put Jesus on the cross and raised Him from the dead (Acts 2.23; Is 53.10; Rom 3.25; Rom 4.25; Rom 8.3, 32).
One might argue redemption’s story is different from the rest of history’s occurrences. But let us consider these simple truths:
The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
– Prov 16.1
The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
– Prov 16.9
The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the Lord.
– Prov 16.33
We might think we are throwing dice. We might plan our paths, but God has it all established. He decides on which side the die will land.
What can possibly be more comforting than God being in control? He is not alarmed at any situation. Rather, He causes it. For His glory, and for our good. Therefore, Trust Him. He’s got you.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”
– Rom 8.28-30