If we were to give a definition of God’s power, it could be something like this: The power or omnipotence of God can be defined as God’s ability to do all he plans to do in keeping with his holy character.
We read in Psalm 62:11, “…Power belongs to you, God.” Power belongs to God and God alone. The very term “Almighty” [Gen 17:1, Ex 6:3, 2 Cor 6:18, Rev 1:8] means that God alone possesses all power and authority. This term appears nearly 56 times in the Bible and it is always used of God alone. Even the very word omnipotence derived from 2 latin words [omni―all and potens―powerful] means “all-powerful.” In fact, “Power” is also used as a name of God as seen in Mark 14:62 when Jesus said to the religious leaders, “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One” [or “right hand of Power” as in a few other translations]. Instead of saying right hand of God, Jesus states right hand of the Mighty One or Power thus implying God and power are so inseparable.
God’s power is not like our power. Ours is borrowed power―acquired from outside, i.e. from God. God’s power is inherent, within himself. He does not have to depend upon others for power nor does he need to consult with others as to how he can or cannot use his power. He is the Almighty.
Stephen Charnock righty said, “The power of God is that ability and strength whereby He can bring to pass whatsoever He pleases, whatsoever His infinite wisdom may direct, and whatsoever the infinite purity of His will may resolve…As holiness is the beauty of all God’s attributes, so power is that which gives life and action to all the perfections of the divine nature. How vain would be the eternal counsels, if power did not step in to execute them. Without power His mercy would be but feeble pity, His promises an empty sound, His threatenings a mere scarecrow. God’s power is like Himself: infinite, eternal, incomprehensible; it can neither be checked, restrained, nor frustrated by the creature.
So, the question, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” [Gen 18:14; Jer 32:27] implies the obvious answer, “Of course not!” “Nothing is too hard for you” [Jeremiah 32:17]. Job affirms God’s power to do all things by these words, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” [Job 42:2].
There are a couple of things we must understand though when studying about God’s power.
a. Even though God can do all things, he will not do anything that is inconsistent with his holy character. There are certain self-imposed limitations that God has placed upon himself. For example, God cannot lie [Tit 1:2], God cannot be tempted to sin [James 1:13] and he cannot deny himself [2 Tim 2:13]. God also will not act contrary to his Word.
For example, God has not chosen to save all people. Only those who repent and turn to him in faith will be saved. Others will be condemned to hell―no matter how much they plead!
b. In certain situations, God may choose not to show his power. These are not situations that would call for God to compromise his holy character if he were to display his power. Rather, these are situations where God simply chooses not to show his power for his own reasons.
For example, God did not spare his Son from the cross. He did not spare many of his children from a cruel death [e.g. Abel in Genesis 4, Stephen in Acts 6, etc]. Could he have showed his delivering power in these situations? Absolutely. However, he did not. It was his plan for these individuals to go through what they went through.
In the same way, at times, you and I will also have to go through certain painful events―not because God lacks power to deliver us, but that is not part of his overall plan for us. That is what we mean by God being sovereign―he exercises his rule over his creation as a sovereign or king. So, we must be careful not to misquote verses such as “With God all things are possible” [Matt 19:26] as if God will always give us a “favorable” result. We need to remember at times God exhibits his power to deliver us from trouble or at times does not remove the trouble, keep us secure through it. The latter takes power too!
The Manifestation of God’s Power. There are at least 8 areas where we see God’s power manifested to us as revealed in Scriptures. Some pertain to the past, some to the present and others to the future.
1. In creating the universe.The Bible opens with this statement, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” [Gen 1:1]. Right away, we are introduced to God’s power. Who can create this entire universe from nothing and that too with just a spoken word? Only God can! The first two chapters of Genesis gives us the entire details of the entire creation account and of God’s power. Notice the frequent use of the words, “And God said” [e.g., Gen 1:3, 5, 9]. and then the appropriate elements of creation came to be. That’s power! Even without the special revelation through the Bible, according to Romans 1:20, the very creation testifies of God’s power. In other words, creation testifies of a Creator. That is why none can give an excuse for denying the existence of God.
2. In sustaining the universe. Not only did God create, but he is also the One who sustains the universe. And that too by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3,“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” The entire galaxy is sustained by his power. All of nature is sustained by his power. We frequently see in the gospels Jesus’ power over nature. Even now, it is God’s power that controls the waters from covering the earth, that sets limits on disasters such as earthquakes, etc. It is God’s power that sustains human beings as well. A tiny baby is sustained in the womb of its mother for the entire duration by his power. You and I are sustained as adults by his power.
3. In restraining evil. While evil will eventually be banished from the universe, even now it is God who in his power restrains evil. Often we are shocked by events that describe the gruesome acts of evil people. The very fact that such acts are not always committed is a proof that God restrains evil. Human depravity aided by Satanic power is capable of doing much evil all the time [Genesis 6:5; Rom 3:14-18]. But, thankfully, God in his power has placed restraints. Even when Satan attacked Job, he was bound by God’s power to inflict no more damage than he was allowed [Job 1:12, 2:6].
4. In delivering his people. Events like the Exodus clearly are a display of God’s mighty power. We are told in Exodus 15:6, “Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy.” Right hand was symbolic of God’s great power. Later victories in Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, under David, etc. are clear examples of God’s power in delivering his people.
5. In conquering disease and death. In his earthly ministry, Jesus by displaying this power on numerous occasions when just with a spoken word or a gentle touch healed many diseases. This was to show that he was the Messiah and that in the coming kingdom this is how life would be. However, the greatest power displayed by God is seen whereby he raised Jesus from the dead. And by that resurrection, Jesus shows that he has power to conquer disease and death. How so? Disease and death came into this world because of sin [Rom 6:23]. And since payment for sins have been fully made and the resurrection is the proof of it [Rom 4:24-25], one day these will be fully conquered [1 Cor 15].
6. In changing lives. God’s power changes human lives. It is evident during all 3 stages of our salvation; Justification [Past], Sanctification [Present] and finally Glorification [Future].
a. Justification. If we are children of God, how did we change from being God-haters to God-lovers? Through the gospel! And the gospel is described by Paul in this manner: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” The gospel is the power of God. It is through this powerful gospel God makes people right with him―an act known as justification. It is through this gospel we receive new life.
b. Sanctification. When one becomes a child of God, they also possess that resurrection power through the indwelling presence of the powerful Holy Spirit. That power given to us through the Holy Spirit not only enables us to be witnesses, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” [Acts 1:8], but also enables us to live holy lives, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” [2 Peter 1:3].
A Christian who once was discussing religious matters with a Buddhist asked what he thought about Christianity. The Buddhist replied, “I find a lot of similarities between our teachings. But one thing I find that your faith has which mine does not have is this: My faith tells me what I need to do. But it does not give me the power to do it. Yours gives the power.”
c. Glorification. This is the time when we will receive new bodies resembling the body of Jesus. And this new body will be free from sin, suffering and death. This will happen when Jesus returns. Philippians 3:20-21,“20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
And in case, we are doubting if our salvation will be secure until this glorification happens, we can be comforted. Peter reminds us that God’s power will keep true believers secure until they reach heaven for their glorification. 1 Peter 1:5 states that we are “shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
7. Judgment of the Wicked. Genesis 6-8 reveal the power of God in the past when he judged the wicked world of Noah’s time through the universal flood. Revelation 19-20 describe in clear detail how God in his power will in the future once-for-all judge Satan, his demons and all the unbelievers who have rebelled against him. That judgment will result in them being cast into the lake of fire―hell, a place of conscious and everlasting destruction. None will be able to resist his power at that time―just as none could resist his power during the flood in the past.
In addition, the power of God will also be seen where even though they will be suffering eternal torment in the lake of fire, their bodies will not perish. God will give them bodies suitable for hell as he gives us bodies suitable for heaven.
8. A New World. Revelation 21 and 22 describe God’s power in destroying this current universe by fire and creating a new heavens and a new earth. This is where we [i.e., all believers] will dwell in the presence of this great God forever and ever.
So, we see at least 8 areas where God has revealed his power to us. Before I describe how the knowledge of God’s power should affect our daily lives, let me state this truth: Our understanding of God’s power is still very very finite. Job understood this limitation when he confessed in Job 26:14 after describing God’s awesome power in verses 6-13, “And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” These are just whispers of his power says Job. That’s how finite our knowledge is of God’s power.
However, lack of full knowledge of God’s power [and his other attributes] should not discourage us. We should keep desiring to grow in this knowledge as much as God would help us. And that knowledge should lead to application―at least in 3 specific aspects when it comes to having this knowledge of God’s power.
1. We must fear him. We read in Psalm 33:6-7,“6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses.” The next two verses of Psalm 33:8-9 goes on to describe what our response ought to be in the light of God being the all-powerful Creator: “8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” Fear and awe is the right response. God is to be feared and revered—not one to be trifled with! All of his commands are to be obeyed—every one of them without grumbling or questioning.
The reason many unbelievers deny the existence of God is by denying, they don’t feel the need to be accountable to anyone―especially the One who created them. And if there is no accountability, there will be no fear of judgment. Result: they can live anyway they want to! When one denies God as Creator, then all others aspects such as God as Judge, God as Redeemer will make no sense.
That is why it is important to start our gospel presentation with God as the Creator [Gen 1:1], not with God as a Judge or God as Love or God as Redeemer. If there is no accountability to the One who made us, then there is no solid foundation to build the good news.
If you are not a Christian, imagine having this God unleashing his power against you. How unwise of you to think you can oppose this God and win! Please be warned. There is a judgment coming. How can you escape from this Almighty God? Just like none who mocked God survived the flood during the time of Noah, none who mock God now will escape his coming judgement by fire. Jesus himself warned in Luke 12:4-5,“4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.“
Only by trusting in Jesus who can deliver you from the coming wrath [1 Thess 1:10], can you escape God’s judgment. Take to heart the serious warning given in Psalm 2:12, “Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
2. We must adore him. If we have God on our side and we do if we are his children, we must constantly adore him for his power. In his power, he has delivered us from eternal death to eternal life. He has protected us from his powerful wrath that is to come. He will lead us safely come. This calls for constant praise. Exodus 15:11-13, “11 Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? 12 “You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies. 13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.”
3. We must trust him. In Luke 1:37, we read about Gabriel’s revelation to Mary that she as a virgin would bear the Messiah, “For no word from God will ever fail.” Many translations render this as, “With God, nothing will be impossible.” The NIV [2011 version] and the margin reading of NASB give a more accurate rendering—No word or promise of God will ever fail. Mary believed it and that’s why she responded, “”I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled”” [Lk 1:38].
Mary implicitly trusted in God’s power to keep his words of promise—no matter what earthly consequences she might face. And she did face challenges starting with Joseph initially desiring to break the engagement. But she trusted in God’s power and God fulfilled his plans in her life. Like Mary, we too should with a humble attitude of trust believe God’s power will keep us through all of life’s challenges and need not fear obeying his commands.
We need to remember this all-powerful God is also an all-loving God who will never leave nor forsake his children [Heb 13:5]. Going back to Psalm 62, let us look at verses 11 and 12 this time, “One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love.”” Notice, that love is accompanied with power.
In other words, where will be if we were left only with God’s power and no love toward sinners like us? Or where would we be if we were left only with God’s love without the power to accomplish the acts of love? Thankfully, both of these qualities are present in fullness with God. That is why we must unflinchingly trust him. He has promised to be with us and take us home safely. No matter what happens, we can commit our souls to the One who created us and holds us secure in his hands. Let us join David who said, “in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?” [Psalm 56:11].
Let’s trust him when he says we have been given the power to overcome any sin, any temptation, any fears and any addictions. And let this trust turn into prayer whereby we continually ask this great God of ours to work this power in our lives through the Holy Spirit so that we can lead a holy life [Eph 3:14-17a]. We will be amazed as to how he answers such prayers [Eph 3:20-21].