Divine Attribute Observed: Omnipotence
“Divine power is optional in its exercise. God need not have created anything. And after creation, he may annihilate. Only when he has bound himself by promise, as in the instance of faith in Christ, does his action cease to be optional. It cannot be said that God may keep his promises as he pleases” (William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, chapter 5).
Let’s take a look at this statement further.
· Divine power is optional.
o The other day, I was at work doing my routine, and after thinking about the plans and the Word of the Lord, suddenly it hit me. God doesn’t need me to spread his Word, OR for any other reason. This was definitely a truth that hit hard. “What’s the point then?” I thought. Why are we alive? Why are we concerned with God’s will? Sometimes, I play the devil’s advocate with the voice of reason in my mind (I feel that observing ideas at all possible angles helps make one understand better). So anyways, what does the above thought that came to me mean? Where does that put us? I’ll tell you. It put’s us at the bottom of His jar covered in his grace. “For [the omnipotent] God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16). Why did God give? More importantly, why did God give what WE NEEDED? Romans chapter 5, verse 8 says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If He is omnipotent, why would we need this? You know the reason.
· Continuing on, “Only when he has bound himself by promise, as in the instance of faith in Christ, does his action cease to be optional” (Shedd).
o This helps explain why Christ had to die for us. Because God required sacrifice (or to look at it another way, cleansed by blood), in order to maintain a relationship with Him (Psalm 66:18).
· Further studying this concept that “God doesn’t need us” brings me to think of something else:
o “A Logical formulation on the Problem of Evil
§ God Exists
§ God is all-good
§ God is all-powerful
§ Evil exists.
o Affirm any three and you must deny the fourth, it seems” (Kreeft and Tacelli: Handbook of Christian apologetics 129). How does this fit? Although God doesn’t need us, He is gracious and humble enough to use our compassion. If there was no evil in the world, we would not have compassion for one another, we wouldn’t necessarily work on building our relationships past a superficial level. Thus, because there are murders, robberies, kid-nappings, and the hungry, people find it in themselves to love and to give.
· “Divine power is limited only by the absurd and self-contradictory. God can do anything that does not imply a logical impossibility. A logical impossibility means that the predicate is contradictory to the subject; for example, a material spirit, a corporeal deity, a sensitive stone, an irrational man, a body without parts or extension, a square triangle” (Shedd).
o I feel that this is very important when understanding more clearly, omnipotence as an attribute of God.
o Something comes to mind as I read this citation: A few years back, I remember a guy bragging about how he “put a pastor in his place” by asking him, “Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?” He said the pastor didn’t have an answer for him. I found myself in the same boat as the pastor. “This question is absurd.” I thought. A few years prior to that, this question was brought up in one of my philosophy classes, and the argument (philosophically) was that God COULD in fact make a rock so big He can’t lift it, and THEN He lifts it… because He is God. I talked with my pastor about this and asked him what his answer was. He said pretty much verbatim what Shedd says in the citation above. The question is illogical, so it can’t have a logical answer. God is all-powerful, his thoughts are above our thoughts, and it is absurd to think that we can out smart Him.
“For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,When as yet there was not one of them” (NASB Psalm 139:13-16).
Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus