Sometimes, in speaking of the power of God, people use the high-sounding theological terminology of God’s omnipotence. Or in speaking of His ability to be everywhere as his omnipresence or his all-knowing as omniscience. Those terms may be all right for theologians, but for the common man they are a turn-off. Therefore we are not going to use them. The Bible doesn’t use these words, but the doctrines they describe are drawn from stories and statements that are expressed in much simpler, every day words.
God expresses Himself to man in terms that accommodate our finiteness. David expresses God’s view of man in poetic terms in Psalm 103:14: “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” That doesn’t mean that God looks on humanity as worthless, but as compared to His being, we are small and insignificant. The verse preceding this one shows His attitude toward man…
“As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13).
High sounding theological terms tend to put God at a distance from us. But God describes Himself as a Father and we as His children. Paul uses this very same terminology in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18.
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
Therefore, instead of being put off by theological terminology, we should be drawn to this wonderful, incomprehensible, unexplainable being who obviously loves us and seeks a relationship with us.
When we begin reading the Bible, the first thing called to our attention about God is His power. “In the beginning, God created…” The power to create “the heavens and the earth” bespeaks an awesome being far above man’s capability of comprehension. That creative power is echoed and reflected down through the ages as God moves toward His ultimate objective for the creation in that He will “unite [sum up, consummate, bring to completion] all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10).
We could write just here about all the awesome deeds God has done in which he has demonstrated His power over and over. There is the flood in Noah’s day. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt with the parting of he Red Sea. The fall of Jericho. Etc., etc., etc. We could talk about the miracles in both Old and New Testaments. These things all have lessons for us and would be profitable at other times and in other circumstances.
But I wish to bring this lesson closer home to us – to the 21st century – to our lives in Kentucky, Texas, California, Florida, Canada, Malaysia, India or South Africa. God’s power has special meaning and application for all men today. Believers and unbelievers.
Let’s look at it in the way it is presented in the New Testament. In Paul’s first prayer for the Ephesian Christians, (Ephesians 1:15-23ff), he asked that they might understand “the immeasurable greatness of [God’s] power toward us who believe.” God’s power has meaning and is realized in believers. How does that work? The grand demonstration of divine power for Paul was the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb. He speaks of the power of God which He “worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20).
According to the apostle, we obtain the benefits of the power of God by our own resurrection from (spiritual) death. Like Jesus, God has, “made us alive together with Christ” and has “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6).
This is not raw, unmoderated power on God’s part. Paul makes it plain that all the things God does for us through His power are expressions of other qualities of His divine nature. In this same text, he said that God, “being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,” (Ephesians 2:4), exerted His power in raising us up or resurrecting us to sit with Him in the heavenly places. It is also tied to His grace. He said that God who “made us alive together with Christ” did so through His grace: “—by grace you have been saved—”
God’s power, His grace, mercy, love—all His attributes—describe to us His character. While we may know things about Him by considering these one by one, yet it is only when we take these together that we begin to form anywhere near a true “portrait” of Him.
One final thought while we are on this subject. That awesome power of God is at work in us at the present time. From the benediction of his second prayer of the apostle for the Ephesians, he says;
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
His power was at work in the Ephesian Christians and that same power is at work in Christians today. So many do not realize that because they have made themselves “self-sufficient” or thought of themselves as being “self-contained.” To these, God is far away and everything is up to them. This, if not taught directly, is what people are led to believe through the constant insistence of preachers and leaders that we are not doing enough, being good enough, giving enough, etc., etc. It is no wonder that there are so many discouraged people in churches today.
But if people are led to a correct understanding of God and that all the resources of heaven are available to us we would lead far different lives. Knowing that this all-powerful God wills to use His power for our benefit will lead us to greater confidence — greater reliance — in Him. When we have this kind of confident trust in God, it will lead to less confidence in ourselves. And that is all right. That is what faith is about. It is when we come to this point that God’s power can be fully realized in our lives.
Co-authored with Bill Van Dyke, Ph.D, Give Me Liberty: Restoring the Spirit of Jubilee examines the mission of Christ as viewed from the fulfillment of Jubilee and how legalism robs the church community of the joy Jubilee brings.
A Better Way is an exploration and critique of the traditional method of determining Bible authority and suggestions for a better approach to understanding the Bible.