Wednesday, October 19, 2011

God the Father Almighty

Then Job replied to the LORD: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.
Job 42:1-6

I know a young boy who is completely in love with superheroes. He watches all the cartoons, and owns almost every superhero toy on the market. He loves to talk about Spiderman, and he thinks Batman is “awesome!” I’ve even heard him claim to have super powers himself once (namely the power of super-speed). Understandably, this little boy’s infatuation with superheroes filters over into his understanding of God. Having learned about the miracles of Jesus at a young age, he conceptualizes God as some type of superhero. For a four year old this may not be a bad metaphor, but I hope that his understanding of God will grow with him over the next ten or twenty years. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case for all of us. Maybe it’s because we haven’t been taught. Or maybe it’s because we weren’t paying attention. Either way, we have an excellent chance today to return to the essentials of the faith and to look at God’s all-powerful nature with fresh eyes.

Genesis 18:14 asks the rhetorical question, "Is anything too difficult for the Lord?" The implied answer is, "No!" Christ says that with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:25-26). God even chooses to refer to Himself throughout Scripture as "God Almighty" (Gen 17:1 et. al.). The fancy theological term for the idea that God is all-powerful is omnipotence. Now it isn't uncommon when you start talking about this aspect of God's nature to have someone drop a weird scenario on you like the following..."If God is all-powerful then could He create a rock so big that even He couldn't move it?" In reality this question and all of the others like it reveal a misunderstanding of both what it means to be all-powerful and the rules of logic. The first problem with the question is that it contains an error in logic. It is logically impossible for this task to be completed by an all-powerful being. That is not a limit on God's power, it is a limit on logic. But secondly the question also shows a misunderstanding of what it means to be omnipotent. The question implies that if God is omnipotent then He ought to be able to do ANYTHING that we come up with (no matter how absurd). That is not the case. Dr. Bruce Ware defines God's omnipotence in this way- "God is able to perform anything that is consistent with His nature as God."* In actuality there are plenty of things that God can't do. He can't lie. He can't break promises. He can't steal. He can't do these things not because He is too weak to do them but because they are incompatible with His nature. The fact that God can't lie does not reveal a limit on his power but an excellence in His character.  

Although Scripture speaks clearly about the fact that God has all power, in many ways it is His creation which best helps us to understand how powerful God is. Psalm 19 begins with the following, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." This is no less true in the age of science. In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning offers the following "If you were to hold out a dime at arm's length, the coin would block out 15 million stars from your view, if your eyes could see with that power." When you pause to think about how awesome our world is, the fact that it was made simply by the word of our God is dumbfounding. And in an age that focuses almost exclusively on the nearness of God, it is nice to be reminded that at times we should "be still, and know that He is God" (Psalm 46:10). 

I challenge you today take five minutes of your lunch break, go outside and listen to creation declare the power of your God. Every leaf on every tree, every blade of grass, every animal, every tiny insect is a testament to God's power. He can do all things! Nothing is too difficult for Him. So let me remind you of what Christ said "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). This is the God we serve!

For further reading...
*It should be noted that much of this talk and this series draws information from class notes taken from my Systematic Theology I class taught by Dr. Bruce Ware at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. I am also leaning on Wayne Grudem's textbook Systematic Theology

1 comment:

Brett Thompson said...

Great WoW entry... That "young boy" you're talking about isn't me, is it?