The Omnipotence of God


Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

Psalm 115:3 ESV

Jesus Himself had commanded His disciples to go to the other side of the sea. After teaching all day long, He fell asleep in the boat, a pleasant moment of rest. But then came the windstorm, and with wind came waves. Soon the storm raged so strong that even the experienced fishermen upon the boat feared for their lives. They roused Jesus awake, questioning whether He cared for them at all. But Jesus simply spoke to the wind and waves, saying, “Peace! Be still!”

Obediently, the stormed ceased, and the sea calmed. The disciples were saved by Jesus. Yet even as their fear of the sea vanished, another fear rose in their minds. Looking at one another, they asked themselves about their Teacher, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

ALMIGHTY

The next attribute in our study is the sovereign power of God, which we call omnipotence. To say that God is omnipotent is to affirm that He possesses all power and that there is nothing impossible for Him. The equivalent term used within the Bible is almighty, which, of course, means to have all might. As we have noted with the last few attributes, God’s omnipotence is a particular branch of His infinitude. Whereas His infinite knowledge is omniscience and His infinite presence is omnipresence, His infinite power is His omnipotence or His almightiness.

The biblical evidence for God’s omnipotence is a bit overwhelming but let us still attempt to put together a sample of texts. The first display of God’s absolute power is found in the opening verse of the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The Creator who formed all things out of nothing rightly deserves to be described as all-powerful. Furthermore even as we are also told that the world was created through Jesus as the eternal Word of God, the Bible also declares that Jesus continues to uphold all of creation “by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

Psalm 147:5 declares, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” Jeremiah prayed, “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17). Jesus Himself testified before His disciples that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:6), and Gabriel spoke similarly to Mary: “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Paul likewise rejoiced that God is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Indeed, power is so intrinsic to God’s being that Jesus used Power as one of God’s names: “And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven’” (Mark 14:62).

Yet with the discussion of God’s omnipotence almost inevitably comes the question of hypothetical conundrums that seem to poke potential holes in His infinite power. Can God create a rock so big that He cannot lift it? If God can do all things, does He also have the potential to sin? Matthew Barrett provides a fitting answer:

By asking such questions we are so amused and impressed by our own cleverness that we fail to see just how contradictory our words have become. For God to do anything that would violate his other attributes does not complement his power but destroys it. In a world in which doing things (doing everything) has become a sign of authority, we struggle to understand that there are situations in which not doing something is a far greater signifier of power. Joseph does not commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife; Jesus does not command stones to turn into bread—these non-acts display the greatest degree of power. To have done any one of these would have been not powerful but weak, even sinful. Self-control is not a weakness but a sign that one is more powerful than those who cannot control themselves or their actions. So it is with God. His power is just as powerfully manifested in what he cannot do as what he can do.[1]

THE POWER OF GOD

A quick survey of the Bible will find a number of examples of God’s absolute power on display, whether through supernatural action or divine patience. The great flood, the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, the miracles and plagues of the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, and the miracles of Elijah all declare the might of the one, true and living God. And, of course, we have the multitude of Jesus’ miracles (too many to be written and contained within the world), which served to both validate His ministry and display His omnipotent divinity. For instance, the disciples rightly feared Jesus after He calmed the storm because they glimpsed His Godhood. The seas for the Hebrews represented the chaotic nature of the world that God alone brought into order through His act of creation. Therefore, they began to understand the true identity of Christ. We could, likewise, consider the resurrection of Lazarus after being dead for four days. As with the storm and sea, Jesus merely spoke a word of command for Lazarus to live, and he came walking out of the tomb.

Yet Paul particularly calls one act of Christ “the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Paradoxically, the crucifixion of Jesus is the grand display of God’s infinite power toward His people. Per Barrett’s point above, the suffering of Christ upon the cross is a tremendous portrait of Jesus’ willingness to die in the place of His bride. After all, while being arrested, Jesus told His disciples, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53)? Yet Jesus’ power was more vividly displayed by His submitting to death than by calling upon the entire hosts of heaven. One hymn captures this notion quite well:

See the King who made the sun
And the moon and shining stars
Let the soldiers hold and nail Him down
So that He could save them.[2]

During each lash of the whip, hammering of a nail, and struggle for breath, Jesus shielded us from a flood of wrath far greater than that which Noah witnessed. Rightly, therefore, do we who have called upon the name of the Lord for salvation see the cross as the power of God. It is the working of what was impossible: salvation.

Yet Paul also describes the power of God displayed in the resurrection and ascension of Christ. In Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul prays for his readers to have the eyes of their hearts enlightened by the Holy Spirit so that they may know the hope of our calling, the riches of God’s inheritance in the saints, and “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at the right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (1:19-21). In verse 19 alone, the apostle piles four different Greek words for power upon one another in order to superlatively demonstrate the immeasurable greatness of God’s power! He then reveals that this supreme power was worked in Christ during His resurrection from the dead and His ascension and exaltation into the heavens, where He has triumphed in victory over every other power or authority in existence, especially those in the spiritual realm. Although He clothed Himself in humility and submitted Himself to death, even death on a cross, He is now reigning as the King and Lord of all.

Notice, however, that in Ephesians 1:19 Paul said that God’s power in Christ’s resurrection and ascension was “toward us who believe.” A glorious consequence of Jesus’ ascension was His sending of the Holy Spirit to seal and indwell His disciples. Consider how Jesus described the Spirit’s coming to His followers: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). By having the Third Person of the Trinity dwelling within us, we have been given the power of God. The Almighty One is both with us and within us by His Spirit.

This should be a source of great encouragement to us. The commands of God are too great for us to accomplish. We cannot make disciples of all nations. We cannot walk in a manner worthy of our great calling. We cannot love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, and might. Such laws are beyond our ability. God, however, does not leave us to our own strength and devices. The Spirit within us by the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ our Lord is our strength. He is our Comforter, the One who keeps our arms held high whenever our mightiest efforts have failed, the One who petitions the Father for us whenever the words of our very prayers are found wanting.

Another hymn rhetorically asks the question: “Shall the church now faint or fear when the Comforter is near?”[3] The answer is a resounding “no!” “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). Indeed, the Spirit is the might and power of the Omnipotent for His weak and needy people.


[1] Barrett, Matthew. None Greater (p. 191). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[2] Jerusalem by CityAlight.

[3] God the Spirit by Matt Boswell.

2 thoughts on “The Omnipotence of God

  1. Excellent! Our victory is defined by our relationship with Jesus Christ who sits on the throne! We are now citizens of His kingdom and by faith, we should live as subjects, children and He even calls us friends.

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