Dr. Richard L. Strauss
November 4, 1979
We live in an age of unprecedented power. Mighty engines power race cars hundreds of miles per hour, pull freight trains that are literally miles in length, lift mammoth airplanes off the ground carrying hundreds of passengers, and hurtle tons of sophisticated scientific equipment into orbit around the earth. That is power.
By harnessing the power of the atom, men have created enough energy to light entire cities, and enough weaponry to annihilate the population of the earth many times over. That is power.
Throughout human history mankind has stood in awe before the mighty power of the natural elements—light so powerful it can blind us, water so powerful it can wash away whole civilization, wind so powerful it can topple brick and steel buildings, fire so powerful it can melt rock. We know what power is.
Athletes are power conscious. Baseball has its power hitters, football its power runners, basketball its power forwards. Weightlifters may be billed as the most powerful men in the world. Athletes in every sport are striving for greater power to establish new world records. We understand power.
At least we think we do...until we come to God. And suddenly our minds are boggled. He claims to be all-powerful, and that defies our comprehension. The power of the world's greatest athletes, added to the power of the world's natural elements, added to the incredible power man has developed through technology, and you haven't even begun to measure God's power. He not only supersedes this power, He is the source of all power, not only in the physical realm about which we have been talking, but in the spiritual realm as well, where the true nature and extent of power eludes our understanding. God is omnipotent (omni: all; potent: power).
What does it mean to be omnipotent? Very simply, it means that God has complete and perfect power. He can do anything He wants to do.
None of us can make that statement. Our capabilities are limited. We cannot do everything we might like to do. But God is able to do everything He wills. Omnipotence simply means that God is able. That's the title of this message and it boils it down to the point: God is able.
We use the term "power" in at least two different ways. Sometimes power refers to authority. That's the way Jesus used it when He said, "All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18). That is not so much a reference to His omnipotence as it is to the attribute we studied last week: God's sovereignty. He has the right to do anything He pleases.
Power can also mean strength to act, the ability to perform. And that is the kind of power in omnipotence. The two actually go together. God's omnipotence provides the strength to do what His sovereignty gives Him the right to do. The Bible ties them together. The Psalmist said, "He rules by His power forever" (Psalm 66:7). And great multitudes in heaven shout, "Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (Revelation 19:6). He is able to rule sovereignly because He has infinite power. God is able.
1. Meet the God Who Is Able
One of God's names tells us that He is able. He revealed it first to Abraham. He had promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. Naturally, he needed a son to make that promise come true. Abraham thought Ishmael was to be that son, but God said Sarah would bear a son of her own named Isaac, through whom the promise would be fulfilled. The whole idea was preposterous. Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90. There was no way they could have a son. But God helped them to believe it by the way He introduced Himself to them that day.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless" (Genesis 17:1).
He is El Shaddai, God Almighty, the God who can do anything He wants to do—even rejuvenate dead wombs and give babies to couples in their nineties. He is almighty, all-powerful. That name is used 47 more times in the Old Testament and never of anyone but God. It has a New Testament equivalent, which means literally "to hold all things in one's power." It's used 10 times in the New Testament. Nine times it is translated "Almighty," which always refers to God, and once as "omnipotent" (Revelation 19:6, KJV). The very name God bears tells us He has all power.
The Bible is permeated with references to God's omnipotence. He is the Lord strong and mighty (Psalm 24:8).
Let me read you some others.
"One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: 'Power belongs to you, God'" (Psalm 62:11).
"Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit" (Psalm 147:5).
Power belongs to God.
He wants us to know Him as the God who is able. It's interesting to watch Biblical characters discover Him in that light. Abraham was one of the first. Sometime after that initial revelation of Himself as the Almighty, God again promised Abraham a son, this time in Sarah's hearing, and she laughed within herself (Genesis 18:12). "Why did Sarah laugh?" God asked with convicting insight. Then He added, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14).
That's an interesting question. Maybe we need to answer that question. Is anything too hard for the Lord?
You see, when Abraham and Sarah answered that question accurately, they would be able to rest assured that God would keep His Word and give them a son. They finally admitted that God could do anything He wanted to, as Paul later described their faith, "...being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able to perform" (Romans 4:21). In other words, they accepted the truth of God's omnipotence.
We have so many disillusioning experiences with people who promise more than they deliver, that we have a tendency to transfer our skepticism to God. Does He really care? Is He really in control? Does He really have the power to bring good out of this? And our doubts do nothing but raise our anxiety level. We need to believe this, Christian, just as Abraham and Sarah finally believed it. God is able to do whatever needs to be done in your life.
I want you to see Jeremiah discover this, too. Turn over to Jeremiah chapter 32. God had told Jeremiah that Judah would be invaded by the Babylonians and taken into captivity, but that he was to go out and buy his cousin's field. That didn't make any sense. Why own a field if the Babylonians are going to destroy it and take everybody into captivity? Could it be that God would bring them back from captivity? That was almost too good to believe. But he wanted to believe it, and he was trying to believe it when he prayed.
"Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You" (Jeremiah 32:17).
Nowhere is God's power more dramatically displayed than in creation. Everything we make requires existing materials, but God made the worlds out of nothing. He merely spoke, and it was done (Psalm 33:6, 9). That is power! The writer to the Hebrews assures us that He continues to sustain all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).
A God who is able to create everything out of nothing by a word, then continues to hold it all together by a word, is certainly able to do anything else He wants to do, including restore the nation Israel to her land. And as if to strengthen Jeremiah's struggling faith, God Himself speaks:
"Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 'I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?'"(Jeremiah 32:26-27).
It's a question but it demands a "no" answer. No, Lord. Absolutely nothing! Jeremiah saw it. God is able!
Now turn over to Luke chapter 1 and see another person come to know God's omnipotence. This time it is a virgin. The virgin Mary questioned God's spectacular revelation to her. How could she possibly bear a son when she had never had relations with a man? The very same way her elderly cousin Elizabeth could bear a son when she was past the age of child-bearing. The very same way that Sarah had a son at her age. It is possible because God has all power.
"For with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37, KJV).
That is a very interesting verse because it literally says, "For no word from God shall be without power." That puts it right where it belongs: in the realm of God's omnipotence. He has the power to do whatever He says He's going to do.
The disciples learned that, too. They were disturbed when Jesus told them how difficult it would be for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. "Who then can be saved?" they asked rather hopelessly. That's when they got a decisive lesson on omnipotence.
"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God'" (Mark 10:27).
Everything is possible with God! He can do whatever He wants to do. God is able!
2. Know What God Is Able to Do
If we really want to know the omnipotent God intimately and experientially, then we ought to know exactly what He is able to do. While we have learned that He can do anything He wants to do, it might be good to see some specific things in the Bible that He says He is able to do, so we as His children know exactly what we can count on in our relationship with Him.
I must warn you, first of all, that there are a few things He cannot do. God cannot do anything that is contrary to His own nature. For example, He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). Since His nature is truth, He would be self-contradictory if He could lie. You can always count on the truthfulness of what He says.
Secondly, He cannot sin. He cannot be tempted with evil (James 1:13; Job 34:10). That's encouraging. I don't think I could find much strength to resist temptation from a God who might not be able to resist it Himself.
Finally, the Apostle Paul assured us that God cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). That means He must do what He promised to do. He cannot be anything but faithful to His Word. We shall examine all of these more closely as we study future attributes. But for now, look at what He is able to do.
The reason I'm making such a big deal about God being able is that in the New Testament, the word "to be able" means essentially "to have power." When we read that God is able to do something, it means that He has the power to do it. It is a concept related to His omnipotence. The Old Testament word has a similar connotation, though not as clearly.
To what areas, then, is God's omnipotence specifically related? Look at some of the things that God is able to do. That will help us know what we can count on.
a. God Is Able to Save to the Utmost (Hebrews 7:25)
"Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them" (Hebrews 7:25).
This is talking about God the Son. That means He saves us completely for all time and eternity. Once we have trusted Christ as Savior from sin and been born again, we never need to fear for our eternal destiny. Never! Our omnipotent God has the power to keep us. Peter put it in those very words. We "...are kept by the power of God" (1 Peter 1:5). Good thing, too. Wouldn't feel very secure if my salvation depended on me.
b. God Is Able to Keep Us from Sin (Jude 24)
If you turn back to the second-to-last book of the Bible—that one chapter book of Jude—you'll see a great benediction with a blessed truth.
"To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!" (Jude 24-25).
God has the power to keep us from stumbling into sin. Some Christians don't believe that. Some Christians don't believe it's possible to live apart from sin. None of us lives apart from sin, so that's probably why we think it's impossible. But it is possible because we have a God who is able to keep us from falling.
The writer to Hebrews tells us how this is possible:
"Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted" (Hebrews 2:18).
Our omnipotent Savior is right there to lean on when we are tempted.
c. God is Able to Supply All our Needs (2 Corinthians 9:8)
"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Faithful givers can count on God to take care of everything they need, in every circumstance of life, all the time, so that they can do the work God wants them to do. (The reason some people's finances are a mess is because they haven't learned to prioritize giving sacrificially and joyfully to the Lord.) Only an omnipotent God could make and keep a promise like that.
d. God Is Able to Heal our Diseases (Matthew 9:28))
God is able to heal our diseases. Jesus taught this lesson to two blind men right after He emerged from the house where He had raised Jaurus' daughter from the dead, the supreme demonstration of power. The two men cried out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" (Matthew 9:27). Jesus turned and asked, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" (Matthew 9:28). Do they believe Jesus had the power to heal them so they could see? When they answered, "Yes, Lord," Jesus touched their eyes and they were made to see.
He may be asking you the same question, "Do you believe I have the power to heal you?" He doesn't heal everyone, because He knows what is best for us, and sickness may be part of His plan to bring us to maturity in Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly teaches that. But He is able to heal our diseases, and He wants us to believe that.
e. God Is Able to Deliver Us from Death (Mark 14:36)
I want to show you that God is also able to deliver us from death. Daniel's three friends taught us that lesson standing beside the door of the fiery furnace. They boldly declared to King Nebuchadnezzar, "Our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace" (Daniel 3:17). He doesn't always deliver from death. James the brother of John was killed by Herod's sword (Acts 12:2), while Peter was miraculously delivered (Acts 12:5-11). I don’t know why He didn't deliver James but did deliver Peter; God knows what's best. The point is that God is able to deliver us from death.
Jesus knew His Father in heaven could deliver Him from death. In fact, we see in the book of Hebrews that He prayed to the One who was able to save Him from death (Hebrews 5:7).
"'Abba, Father,' He said, 'everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will'" (Mark 14:36).
While all things are possible, He submitted to His Father's will and trusted Him to do what was best. That's what God wants us to do as well: Trust Him to do what is best.
Still, the fact remains, we are immortal until God's time to take us home. He is able to deliver us from all danger and even from death, so there is no reason for the child of God to fear. When Daniel had spent that fateful night in a den of lions, King Darius hurried to the den in the morning and called out to him.
"The king spoke and said to Daniel, 'Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?'" (Daniel 6:20b).
Hungry lions are no more of a problem to an omnipotent God than fiery furnaces, or terminal illnesses, or scary noises in the night, or barking dogs, or anything else that we are afraid of. Our God is able to deliver us.
There are many other references in the Bible to what God is able to do, but none more exciting than Ephesians 3:20. Many Christians have memorized this verse.
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20).
He can do more than we can ever imagine. Now that's power! And it is at work in us right now. It is the same power that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-21), and is operating in us. Why, then, do we feel so weak and fearful much of the time? Are you willing to admit this? Sometimes I feel this way. I feel weak and inadequate, fearful and apprehensive. Why do we feel so weak so much of the time? Could it be that we haven't yet learned to appropriate God's power?
Let's discover they key to enjoying God’s power.
3. Learn How to Enjoy God's Power
God's power is available. There is no question about that. He is willing to give strength to all, as David assured us (1 Chronicles 29:12). It is available because God the Holy Spirit, the omnipotent One Himself, actually lives in us. But we need to know the secret to releasing it.
There are three principles to releasing the power of God.
a. Yield to God (2 Chronicles 16:9)
The first principle was revealed to King Asa of Judah by a prophet named Hanani:
"For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His" (2 Chronicles 16:9a, NASB).
God is actually looking for people to help, people for whom and through whom He can release His power. But there is a condition. He wants their hearts to be wholly His, their allegiance to be undivided. In other words, He wants them to be yielded to Him, to desire His will more than their own. If He's going to supply us with His power, then He wants to be sure we will use it for His glory. Some of us may be so weak and fearful because God can't trust us with His power. We would take the glory for ourselves.
b. Pray to God (Isaiah 40:31)
The second key to experiencing God's power was revealed by the prophet Isaiah. He devotes an entire chapter to the greatness of God in contrast to the weakness of men.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.”
But the nation Israel was saying, just as we often say, "If God is so powerful, then why doesn't He help us?" (Isaiah 40:27). That's exactly what He wants to do.
"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak" (Isaiah 40:29).
Great. So how does He do that? Look at the next verse.
"Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
To hope upon God is to keep on prayerfully looking to Him with expectancy. Some of us may be so weak and fearful because we are not consistently asking God for His power. We've given up. We're not expecting Him to act.
Sometimes we resort to conniving, scheming, pulling strings, and using people to work out our problems and to meet our needs. We try to use our own power. But God says, "I want to use My omnipotence on your behalf. Just ask Me. Keep on asking Me."
c. Believe God (Mark 9:23)
There is a third key to releasing God’s power. God's power is always revealed on our behalf through faith. That's an indispensable principle found throughout the Bible. There is little hope of enjoying God's power when we don't expect Him to release it, or if we're not sure He can or will, or if we are not trusting Him to do it.
A needy man in Jesus' day needed to learn that lesson. He had a son who was hopelessly possessed of a vile demon that had nearly destroyed him. He brought the boy to Jesus' disciples, but it turned out to be another frustrating dead-end street. The disciples couldn't do anything. He was about to give up when Jesus arrived on the scene. This was his last ray of hope. He pleaded, "But if You can do anything, take pity on me and help us."
Listen to Jesus' answer. It is the pivotal issues in enjoying God's power. "'If You can?' Everything is possible for him who believes" (Mark 9:23).
God is able! There is no deficiency in His power. The only deficiency is in our faith.
We need to expect God to answer with power. Then look for demonstrations of His power. They may come in totally unexpected ways. I've told you this before but the illustration is applicable here. Last March, I needed time. I just couldn't find enough time. But God gave me time, although not in a way that I expected. He allowed me to break my leg and I got time! Those answers to prayer will come. Watch for answers.
God is looking for people through whom He can demonstrate His power. Why not let it be you?
Trusting Jesus as Your Savior
God is also able to rescue sinful people from eternal ruin. That is the greatest power ever! That power, that salvation, is extended to us when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).
Will you do that this morning? Let God’s power deliver you from the condemnation of sin.
God Is Omnipotent
I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?
Jeremiah 32:27 NIV
Continue to AT-08: Perfect in Knowledge