"That ye may know ... what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." Ephesians 1:19-21
The truth we set forth in this writing is the power or omnipotence of God. The power of God is inseparable from His sovereignty, His knowledge, His unchangeableness, His grace and mercy and love, as well as all other virtues that are in Him. Even the truth that God has a will or good pleasure is meaningless unless He has the power to execute that will. Some time ago we considered Psalm 115:3, But our God is in the heavens, He has done whatsoever He hath pleased. We saw that this verse reveals the sovereignty or
freedom of God; whatever pleases God, He does, and no one can stay His hand or say, What doest thou! Included in that simple yet profound verse is the truth of divine power. God hath done, and continues to do, whatever is pleasing to Him. The truth of God's omnipotence is of the highest importance to our understanding of God, yields great comfort to the child of God, and makes alive the truth that God has an eternal, unchangeable counsel.
One of the ways God reveals to us that He is almighty, that His power is unlimited and irresistible, is by giving Himself many names. He is the Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lord God omnipotent, Jehovah, the only Potentate, Lord of Hosts, the Almighty; and in Mark 14:62 we find the name Power. Jesus says, and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. the right hand of Power is the right hand of God. And that verse from mark 14 ties in very nicely with the passage from Ephesians 1 quoted above, for in the resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ we have the greatest possible manifestation of the power of God.
Three of the terms that Scripture uses for the idea of God's power are found in Ephesians 1:19-21. The first term (translated power) is the Greek word from which we get dynamo. Scripture uses this word to express the wonder of the miracle. Paul calls our attention, then, to God's miracle power! The second term (translated working) really means vigor. God demonstrates great vigor as He goes about His work. He waxes strong, vigorous and healthy! And the third term (translated mighty power) contains the idea of authority or right. As God exercises His power, this is not some power that He has usurped illegally or taken unrighteously, but it is a power that is inherent in Him which He exercises in a just and holy way. He has sovereign right and authority to do whatsoever He does.
It is of the utmost importance both for the glory of God and the comfort of believers, that the word all be placed in front of the word power or might. We must think of God in terms of being the Almighty One, of having all power in Himself. It is necessary to stress this, first of all, over against Arminianism or free-willism which severely limits the power of God in salvation so that God must wait upon the power of the Creature's will, to see who will be saved. We must stress this secondly because of the rather common error of dualism. dualism holds that there are two, distinct, separate power sources in the universe. the one source of power is God, and the other source of power is the devil. Dualism stresses that these sources of power are opposite and unrelated. The dualist does not deny that God has greater power than the devil, he does not deny that God's power will ultimately overcome the devil; but he denies that the power which the devil exercises is a power that is given him from God, to be used only under the close control of God. that this is a serious error is clear from the fact that the child of God must know how to explain the evil that is in the world, and especially the evil that comes to him in his life.
We ask that you turn to Job 1 in your Bible, paying careful attention to the verse eight and twelve. How clear that the devil does not have an ounce of power in himself, but that power belongeth to God! the power of the devil, the power of any creature, the powers that be in the universe, these are not original powers; they are derived from God, limited and directed by God, and withdrawn at proper moments by God.
It will not do simply to define God's power as His ability to do anything. That is too brief, and loses out of sight the other attributes of God. Clearly there are some things which God cannot do, exactly because He is God! God cannot be tempted with evil, neither can he tempt any man. God cannot lie. God cannot become greater than He is, or change in any way. God cannot deny Himself or do anything contrary to any of His virtues. And God cannot, as the all glorious One, share His glory with another. thus by the omnipotence of God we are to understand God's ability to accomplish whatsoever He pleases, in harmony with His will and all His perfections.
The infinite power that God possesses is revealed to us in Scripture in five tremendous areas. And as we briefly mention these areas of divine power, keep in mind that God never reveals Himself except through Christ. Christ as the Head and Saviour of the Church must be in our minds as we look into these five great areas! There is the work of God in Christ called creation! God spoke and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast. By speaking His word of power God gave separate existence to all those creatures which were eternally in His mind. By speaking His creative Word, God placed each creature in its proper relationship to the whole creation, framing the various worlds together, knitting the creatures into one cosmos, so that all things work together unto God's appointed end. He called the things that are not as though they were! What a revelation of power! Who can understand it, or appreciate it enough?
God reveals His power, day by day, in providence. The Heidelberg Catechism defines providence as the almighty and everywhere present power of God. God and the creature differ radically on the matter of being. God has being in Himself, while we live and move and have our being in God. thus, having created all things by His Word of power, God continues to uphold or preserve His creatures by the Word of His power.
Thirdly, God reveals His omnipotence through His government of this world. Nothing comes to pass by fate or chance, but all things by the hand of God. God works all things after the counsel of His own will! Nothing lies outside the scope of His mighty rule. God doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?" Thus we may be sure that whatever comes to pass anywhere, comes to pass by the hand of God and according to His holy will.
God's power and authority is mightily revealed in His judgments. Think of the power that was unleashed when God destroyed the wicked world at the time of Noah, opening the windows of heaven and breaking up the fountains of the deep! The powerful judgment of God upon Sodom and Gomorrah when God rained fire and brimstone upon these cities of unmentionable sins; remember, too, Lot's wife. And of our present world situation Paul writes in Romans 9:23, What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction?" In other words, another judgment of God is in store. this present world will be destroyed with fire. What power then! See II Peter, chapter three.
But we have really only begun to scratch the surface of the power of God. What of God's power to usward who believe? The text quoted at the beginning of this pamphlet makes the bold statement that the greatest revelation of divine power is the salvation of the Church in Jesus Christ! When God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day, God accomplished a powerful miracle! But notice! When God raised Jesus from the dead, He raised up to newness of life every believer who ever died and who ever will die. In the resurrection of Jesus there was the resurrection of uncounted thousands from death and hell to everlasting life and glory . What power when God set Jesus at His own right hand, when God subjected all things to Him, and gave Him a name above every name! But notice! When God put Jesus at the pinnacle of power and glory, God took to heaven and exalted untold thousands of weak, poor, beggarly sinner, and set them in heavenly places to rule with Christ! That is exceeding great power, don't you agree? Whatever it takes to deliver the elect church from the bondage of sin and death, and bring her into the freedom of the children of God in heaven, there to enjoy God's world without end ... that is power!
All men live before the face of this almighty God, and have to do with Him in this life and in the life to come. All unbelievers ought to tremble before such a God! Rather than meet God in the day of His vengeance without being covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, the unconverted man of the world ought to hear the Church proclaim, Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Psalm 2:12. Kissing the son means that a man repents of his sins, believes on the Christ, and thus is saved.
The implications of knowing, and believing upon, the omnipotent God are very rich for the saints. Such a God is to be adored, loved, feared, and obeyed! God uses His unlimited power to bring His saints to Himself in glory. Who is like unto Him, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, ding wonders!
Secondly, this God of power is to be trusted without reservation and without holding back. Nothing is too hard for God. What is impossible for man is possible with God. Witness the birth of Isaac when Abraham is a hundred years old. Witness the birth of Jesus from a lowly virgin. Witness the salvation of the rich. Witness the salvation of you and me. No prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no sin is too vile for Him to forgive, no misery too deep for Him to relieve.
Finally, we must know that this wonderful strength of God is made perfect in our weakness. The name of the child of God is really weakness. God makes perfect, or makes fully known His strength in our weakness. and when we know ourselves to be weak, incapable, unworthy, then are we strong in the Lord. then we can do all things in Christ Who strengthens us. And then God has the glory forever. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.