Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Omnipotence of God

Christians often make the statement that "God is omnipotent" and insist that this means that "God can do absolutely anything." In turn this coarse and unscriptural definition becomes philosophical fodder for scoffers who intend to confound and undermine the Lord's people with questions like, "Can God make a rock so large that he cannot pick it up?" When most evangelicals are confronted with this objection (and a host of others like it), it has been my observation that they often seek refuge in the cave of irrationalism in order to justify their belief, opting for a sad mixture of hopelessly quixotic arguments to defend a fundamentally indefensible position. It's not pretty, to say the least.  But this approach is proven both unprofitable and unnecessary provided we allow the bible to define our terminology.

There is No Such Thing as Absolute Omnipotence

It is important to note that omnipotence, in a strictly absolute sense, is an irrational concept. If a being has absolutely all power in the broadest possible sense, then he must possess the power to eliminate his own power, which is an irrational, circular reference. The precept established here likewise easily resolves the so-called "omnipotence paradox" often employed to confound Christians who endeavor to defend God's omnipotence armed with nothing more than zeal that is not according to knowledge. When asked, "Can God make a rock so big that he cannot pick it up?" Christians should not hesitate to answer, "No, he cannot." When this admission is met with the inevitable response of, "Ah ha! So your God is not omniscient after all!" Christians should take the occasion to demonstrate that we must define our terminology by using the word of God as our dictionary.

The Bible Says There Are Things God CANNOT Do

All of God's people should be very clear on this subject - the bible explicitly states there are things that God cannot do - namely "lie" and "deny himself"(Titus 1:2, II Timothy 2:13). Examples could be multiplied, but these two are sufficient to establish the point. It is essential to incorporate this testimony if we are to properly define God's "omnipotence." It is clear that whatever is meant by this moniker, it most certainly does not mean that God has power to do any and everything in an absolute sense.

I'll pause here to recognize that this assertion may make some Christian's break out in a cold sweat. It may seem wrong to back away from defining God's omnipotence as "God can do absolutely anything." But this is the truth none-the-less (Titus 1:2) and it underscores one of the hazards associated with using a commonly accepted dictionary definition of a term rather than allowing the bible to define its own terminology. To state that in a way that is difficult to misunderstand, when the bible says, "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (Psalm 19:6), whatever is meant by "omnipotent" in that statement, it most assuredly does not include the power to "lie" or "deny himself" as a matter of systematic necessity (John 10:35).

Omnipotence Biblically Defined

So we find that when the bible speaks of God's omnipotence, it is not speaking of an ability to do absolutely anything at all; it is speaking of God's ability to do absolutely anything that He wants to do because, "our God is in the heavens, He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased." (Psalm 115:3) What God wants to do is ever and always a function of His holy nature and impeccable character, indeed, "The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works." (Psalm 145:17) Once we allow the bible to speak on the matter, we find ourselves established on the bedrock of truth from which we will not soon be removed through either philosophy or vain deceit (Colossians 2:8).


As we reflect on the greatness of God's omnipotence, I can think of no more fitting end than to hear the words of a great King who learned a great lesson:
"And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he 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?" (Daniel 4:34-35)

email theearstohear


  1. Might it be that adherents to the notion of Absolute Predestination of All Things are also affected by unscriptural ideas concerning God's Omnipotence?

  2. What does it mean that God is completely sovereign? If I sin, is it because God willed that do it? My feelings,
    bad decisions, evil thoughts etc, is God responsible for it all?

  3. I mean, are we just simply robots since even though we have many plans in our hearts but it is God that determines our steps?

    1. ANON: What does it mean that God is completely sovereign?

      TETH: Sovereignty is DOMINION, which is defined as supreme authority. Where many Christians go astray is in insisting that supreme authority requires that God is the active, direct cause of all actions both good and evil. While that view leads to an understandable view of all events, it is untenable in that it indisputably makes God the direct, causative author of evil; a clear violation of “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5), “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” (Psalm 145:17) It follows that God’s sovereign dominion over all things involves both his own direct actions such as in the monergistic accomplishment of our salvation (Romans 8:29-30), or the synergistic work of the spirit in the obedience of his people (I Corinthians 10:13), as well as the actions of his creation in rebellion against him, which he longsuffers or permits to come to pass.

      ANON: If I sin, is it because God willed that do it?

      TETH: The term “will” is fraught with potential for misunderstanding if it is not properly defined in the various contexts in which it is used. In some instances it refers to God’s plan, which includes both his own actions and the evil actions of others that he has permitted to transpire. In other instances it has to do with his commands regarding how we should behave. I would say that your sin is permitted and known by God but not commanded or sanctioned of him. It is willed of God in the sense that his sovereign plan has permitted you to rebel against him, but it is NOT willed of God in the sense that he commanded you to do so. (Hopefully that underscores the difficulty in dealing with the term “will” – we tend to cornjoin the concepts unnecessarily when the word has great breadth of meaning that causes a lot of confusion if not rightly divided by the context).

      ANON: My feelings, bad decisions, evil thoughts etc, is God responsible for it all?

      TETH: He is not the direct, causative author of your evil actions. He has permitted you to commit evil, and he certainly knew that you would, but he did not cause you to do so.

      ANON: I mean, are we just simply robots since even though we have many plans in our hearts but it is God that determines our steps?

      TETH: We are not robots. We have a will and we often act in accordance with it, but this is under the sovereign dominion of God. You cannot sin except God permit you to do so, and he has evidently permitted the entrance of sin into the world. For more on the question “Does man have free will?” you might find this interesting…


      God bless,