The Basics: A Readable Review of Essential Christian Faith
1a. God is All-Powerful
One thing we learn in life is that there is always someone or something more powerful than ourselves. No matter how high we climb on the ladder of success and power we are still limited. Even the President of the United States, as powerful as that office is, is limited by the Constitution, the law, and the power of the vote. And yet, the first aspect of God we are considering is his all-powerfulness also called omnipotence.
Consider the power revealed in creation, an event we’ll cover in more depth later on. The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” (Genesis 1:1–3, NASB95) And from the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1–3, NASB95)
With just a word something came from nothing – that’s power. The prophet Jeremiah summarized this power by saying, “‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,” (Jeremiah 32:17, NASB95) But God’s power is not the raw force of fire marching across a parched forest. It is constrained by God’s other attributes. So, while God is all-powerful, He is also self-limiting.
One such self-limiting example is that God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18, Numbers 23:19). Other aspects of His being also bring structure to this might. Perhaps the greatest self-limiting factor is found in His love. So, while God is all-powerful and could do anything at any time in ways far beyond our wildest imagination the implementation of that power is perfected by God’s other attributes.
While not a perfect example, consider the power a parent has over an infant. A parent has the raw power to do anything they want to that infant. But that power is tempered by love and compassion even when the infant cries all night.
To be frank, God’s power confuses us. If God was all-powerful why did this happen? Why didn’t God step in and prevent this disaster? Why didn’t God stop the bad things that happened to me? We see those things and wonder if God really is as all-powerful and loving as the Bible says. Perhaps this confusion has brought you to the point of denying God’s existence. But recall the infant. Does the baby know or understand why they need their diaper changed? Or Why they need to take a bath? Or why they need that shot which stings so much? Neither can we explain why God does or doesn’t do things.
Nothing is too difficult for God. God is all-powerful, nothing and no one is more powerful. That’s important to remember when we’re faced with powerful foes and impossible odds. When the valley we’re in is deep and dark or there’s a sea of “no way” before us. But God’s perfect power is deployed according to His other attributes which we have yet to uncover. So, while we may want an immediate take no prisoners resolution to our problems, which God could do, He may choose a different but more fruitful path. One question remains, will we trust and have faith in God even if we don’t yet understand the ways or why’s of His power.