Omnipotence of God

The doctrine that God is all powerful.

Job 42:2 "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.

Mat 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

What do we mean when we say that God can do all things?

When we say that God can do anything, what exactly do we mean? There are things that even an omnipotent God cannot do. For example, God cannot sin

Hebrews 6:13 (NIV) When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself...18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.

God cannot be made to do something with is logically inconsistent. For example, God cannot draw a square circle or create a rock that is so heavy that He cannot carry. There are other things God cannot do; for example, He cannot change or He cannot die or cease to exist.

Therefore, the omnipotence of God has to be understood within the context of His character and within the context of logical consistency.

Just how powerful is God?

God is supreme over the laws of nature

Joshua 10:13­14 (NIV) So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel!

Acts 26:8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?

Gen 18:14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son."

God can even exercise power even over the free wills of men

Prov 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

Phil 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

God can change even the hardest of hearts. He could even convict the toughest of unbelievers, Paul

1 Tim 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners­­of whom I am the worst.

God can work good out of everything

Joseph understood that while his brothers intended to harm him, God could work even within their evil schemes to save many lives.

Gen 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

God is all powerful. But what does that mean to us?

Discussion question : Imagine that your father is Lee Kuan Yew. How would you live your life differently than the way you are living now.

Few people would live their lives differently if they are connected to someone rich or important. Wouldn’t we want to take advantage of the situation?

Take advantage of Him

Suppose we found a AJEANNIE@ when we are cleaning our house and the AJEANNIE@ gave us three wishes. Do we wish for things like Aa bowl of noodles@, Aa nice dress@, or even Aa hundred dollars@. No, of course not! We ask for the sky because we know that whatever we ask, we are going to get it. But Christians continue to ask for small things even though their heavenly Father is the Almighty God.

John 16:24 (NIV) Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

There are two possible ways to interpret this verse. Maybe Jesus is saying that His disciples have asked for things from His Father but they have not learned to invoke His name in prayer. Jesus is therefore asking them to invoke His name because there is power in His name. A second possible interpretation is that Jesus is saying that His disciples have not asked for anything substantial (in other words, close to nothing). What they have asked for is peanuts compared to what God is capable. In other words, He might be challenging them to ask for greater things.

Psalms 2:8 (NIV) Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

Of course, God is also interested in our small requests. But He doesn’t want us to just ask for small things. Ask for big things and expect/believe God to deliver.

Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

Doubt God at your own risk

Luke 1:11­20 (NIV) Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John....18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." 19 The angel answered,....20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

When we doubt God, not only do we not receive what we ask for, but we offend God and may receive His punishment.

James 1:6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;

Nothing can happen to us except by His permission

Even the devils can do nothing except with His permission

Job 1:9­12 (NIV) "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." 12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.

John 19:11 (NIV) Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

Even the king of demons, Satan himself, needs God’s permission before he can do us harm. That means that whatever happens to us, God must have allowed it. Why would God allow something Abad@ to happen to us? He would do that only if it will be for our eventual good.

Some people would ask whether it is only God’s faithful that are protected in the same way as Job whereby God formed a hedge about him so that Satan must ask for permission to harm him. Does Satan have free rein over the not so faithful children of God? While there is no direct passage in the Bible to teach that the demons have to ask God for permission for everything they do, according to Hebrew thought, God is portrayed to be in charge of everything so that nothing can come to pass except by His permission. Look at the following example.

1 Chronicles 21:1 (NIV) Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

David committed the sin of taking a census of Israel. While taking a census was not wrong by itself, it was wrong in this case because it was motivated by pride as well as by David’s wish to know how many fighting men he had, thereby not trusting God entirely to deliver Israel from its enemies. What is interesting is that the Bible told us it was God who incited David to commit the sin.

2 Samuel 24:1 (NIV) Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah."...10 (NIV) David was conscience­stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing."

We know that God cannot cause someone to sin (James 1:13). The Biblical writers, however, had no difficulty writing as if God had caused David to sin because they understood that nothing can happen without the permission of God. The following illustration also show a demon asking God for permission before he causes people to sin.

2 Chronicles 18:20­22 (NIV) Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.' "'By what means?' the LORD asked. 21 "'I will go and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. "'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.' 22 "So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you."

Many of us fear Satan more than we fear God. We think that Satan must be the opposite of God since he is God’s arch enemy. Don’t forget that Satan too is a creature of God. God is so much more powerful than Satan that He promises that even Satan is no match for us, His children.

Luke 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

Fear Him

Job 28:28 (NIV) And he said to man, 'The fear of the Lord­­that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'"

Mat 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Many people are so much more afraid of Satan than God. But Satan can only harm our body, and even then he can only do it with God’s permission. God can inflict eternal suffering on those who do not believe. And God will certainly not hesitate to punish us if we do not follow His ways. He does so, however, for our own good so that we would repent.

Exodus 9:14 (NIV) or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth.

Do not limit the power of God

God may be powerful enough to do anything He wants, but it is a Biblical truth that God chose to limit Himself to what His children ask of Him. Our lack of prayer limits what God can do. The saying is worthy to be repeated: Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not.

Ezekiel 22:29­31 (NIV) The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice. 30 "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD."

Why does God require His people to ask before He will act? We do not know for sure but it is possible that in the beginning when God gave man the authority over all of creation, it means that he wants man to take the initiative as to what he wants to be accomplished in this earth.

Another way to limit what God can do is to have no faith. The only thing that prevents us from commanding the mountain (or any other obstacles) to move is simply our faith. God refuses to work unless we have faith.

Mat 17:20 He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

James 1:6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;

We still need to do our part

Phil 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

We can do everything through God. There is a difference between the truths that “God can do everything” and “we can do everything through God”. Many people feel that since God is all powerful, they don’t have to do anything. This is a serious mistake. God can do everything but if we don’t study for our exams, we will still fail. Some people think that the best way to achieve a holy life is to let go and let God take care of everything. If we do that, we will surely be disappointed. The Bible talks about doing our part as well.

While God can certainly do everything by Himself, He gives us the great privilege of helping Him. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, even humans have a hand in helping to roll over the stone. When Jesus chose to feed the multitudes, He chose to use a small boy’s lunch.