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The Attributes of God (2): Omnipotence

Eric Parmenter, Ynysybwl, Wales


The word ‘omnipotence’ is derived from the Latin term omnipotens, meaning ‘all-powerful’. Omnipotence is the attribute of unlimited, infinite and all-sufficient power. We understand this to mean that God can do literally anything He desires. He has infinite power to do all things, whether possible or impossible by natural standards (Lk 18.27). His omnipotent power is free from all mere potentiality, and its character, like God Himself, is unchangeable. The range of God’s omnipotent activity is limited only by His sovereign will, and by His moral nature and character, so, for example, He “cannot lie” (Titus 1.2). Because God is from everlasting to everlasting, His omnipotence is permanent. When all the ages have run their course, God will always, and forever, be the omnipotent, almighty God: He changes not. His power and might will never diminish: everything whatsoever He accomplished in the eternal past He is able also to accomplish throughout all eternity. God exists eternally in three Persons who are co-infinite and co-eternal.  All that is said of God is also true of the other Persons in the Godhead; the Son and the Holy Spirit are both co-equal with the Father, and all three Persons share the same omnipotent power.

Omnipotence and Creation

God, as the all-wise Creator, not only demonstrated His omnipotence in the act of creation, but also continues to manifest it in sustaining the universe which His power created. When God created the universe He simply spoke, and it appeared out of nothing (Ps 33.9; 148.5). This act alone exceeds our finite comprehension and overwhelms our human faculties. Further, for God to create the universe and everything in it required no effort on His part: “For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (33.9); “Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created” (148.5); “Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these [stars], that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and for that he is strong in power, not one is lacking [missing]” (Isa 40.26, RV¹). In contrast, the will of man is restricted to thoughts, purpose, and physical actions. Man can never cause anything to exist by the force of his will. God’s ability to create the universe out of nothing, from the force of His will, is the most magnificent and unfathomable manifestation of His limitless power.

God’s infinite and limitless power is controlled by His divine will, and functions under infinite, eternal, and perfect wisdom. Omnipotence emphasises the eternal supremacy of God’s might: He is always in control of all things at all times. Everything is subject to His sovereign will and purpose. In the present atmosphere of political upheaval and unrest, when society is breaking down in every sphere, and the existence of God is denied and His Word disregarded, we take comfort from the words spoken by Daniel the prophet to Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon’s mighty king: “the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men” (Dan 4.17). His sovereignty is supported by His omnipotence. He is all-powerful and limitless in ability, therefore His power is infinite and eternal.

The prophet Isaiah shows that God not only has the power to do all that He wills, but neither is anything able to reverse what He does (Isa 43.13). Because God is perfect, nothing He does ever needs to be improved upon or undone. Omnipotence is exclusively an attribute of God which is essential to the perfection of His being and essence. Because God has always been, and will remain, perfect, He is able to do anything which is compatible with His own nature, but nothing that is contrary to it. For example, God cannot use His power to compromise in relation to sin, evil, wickedness or self-will, nor can He violate His perfect justice by making one of our wrong decisions into a right decision. Man’s history is littered with men abusing their power, and such still happens because men are imperfect, having a sinful nature. But that cannot be said of God, for He is perfect in power, wisdom and holiness.

Omnipotence and Resurrection

The physical death of the Lord Jesus was absolutely unique. His human spirit He commended to His Father (Lk 23.46), and His body went into the tomb (v 53). The Lord was confident that, regarding His soul, God would not suffer it to be left in [to go toward] Hell (Ps 16.10). The death of Christ, His burial and His resurrection were all under divine control. The resurrection of Christ is attributed to the Lord Himself, and to the Holy Spirit (Jn 10.17-18; Rom 1.1-4). The entire Godhead was involved in the resurrection of Christ. Paul, when writing concerning the power of God, by-passed creation, the incarnation and Calvary, instead focusing his attention on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead” (Eph 1.19-20). This omnipotent power accomplished three things for Christ: He was quickened, raised, and seated at God’s right hand far above all.

At the close of the millennial age, all the dead remaining in their graves will be raised to stand before the great white throne of God. Their eternal future will be determined when the books are opened. All whose names are not “written in the book of life” will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20.11-15). Ultimately, by His omnipotent power, God will dissolve the present universe (2 Pet 3.10), and create “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21.1).

Omnipotence and the Christian

God’s omnipotence is relevant to Christians in a number of ways. Probably in no other dispensation has God’s power been made available as much as it has been in the Church age. The most profound act of divine power is manifest at one’s conversion. The surpassing greatness of God’s power to us-ward who believe is demonstrated against the background of what God did for Christ, when He quickened Him, raised His body physically from the dead, and set Him down physically at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all. God, in the exceeding greatness of His power, also accomplished those same three things for every believer, not physically, but spiritually. We, who were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2.1), have been “quickened … together with Christ”, “raised … up together”, and made to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (vv 5-6). In the eternal past, God determined by sovereign choice to have a people before Him holy and without blame, and this He will accomplish by that same omnipotent power, in the future, when Christ will “present … to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing … holy and without blemish” (5.27).

We can have implicit confidence in an all-powerful God. Nothing is too hard for Him. If God were stinted in might, or had a limit to His strength, we might well despair. But seeing that He is clothed with omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need too great for Him to supply, no temptation too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for Him to relieve. All things are possible with God so, when things in life look impossible from our perspective, let us always remember that, to God, nothing is impossible (Mt 19.26). What greater encouragement can we, the children of God, have when difficulty and distress cloud our sky? However, let us not forget that, although God is able to do whatever He wills, sometimes He may not will to do all that His omnipotence can accomplish. The word of the Lord Jesus to His disciples will stand us in good stead when our path seems fraught with troubles: “Have faith in God” (Mk 11.22). God is infinitely able to do all things, but His actions are always governed by His overall purpose (Rom 8.28-30; Eph 1.9).

The apostle Paul knew the power of God in his own experience: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil 4.13). Paul meant that divine power was constantly being poured into him, and the same can be true for every believer. He exhorted the Ephesian saints to “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5.18). “Be filled” is an imperative, the tense is present continuous, and it is in the plural, indicating that there are no exceptions. Every believer can be filled with the Spirit, and each can know the reality of divine power experientially in his or her own life. 

¹ Revised Version.

(To be continued …)


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