God told Abraham, “I am God Almighty,” and John reports him as saying, “I am…the Almighty” (Genesis 17:1 and Revelation 1:8, ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV). Thus God claims to be all-powerful or omnipotent (the Latin word omni and potens mean “all” and “powerful”).
Yesterday my family and I read about God’s omnipotence in Chapter 13, “The Character of God: ‘Communicable’ Attributes (Part 2),” of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994), which we’re reading in our after breakfast Bible reading time. Here I’ll share some of what we read and talked about.
The quotations with which I opened this post are just two of several places in the Bible that refer to God as “the Almighty.” As well many passages refer to His power, including these:
– “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).
– “But Jesus looked at them [his disciples] and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
– “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). The angel Gabriel is speaking to Mary about the forthcoming birth of Jesus.
God manifests His power in creating and caring for everything, in miracles, and in the saving of sinners. Moreover such passages as Matthew 3:9, in which John the Baptist tells the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham,” indicate that God is able to do some things that He doesn’t actually do.
However there are some things that God cannot do. For example, he cannot do the contradictory, such as to make a stone too heavy for Him to lift, and he cannot do things which are contrary to His nature, such as to lie, as Hebrews 6:18, “It is impossible for God to lie,” points out.
Grudem closes his consideration of God’s omnipotence by observing that He has made us in such a way that we can show in our lives some of each of God’s attributes of purpose–will, freedom, and power. When we use them to make choices and do things that are pleasing to God we reflect His character and bring glory to Him.