The character of God: Is God truly all-powerful?
Published 6:24 am Friday, May 4, 2018
If I really want to know who you are, the first question I should ask is what you think about God. Your understanding of how powerful God is will have a huge impact on how you live your life, the decisions you make, and the way you treat people and God. Most people’s view of God is way to small to grasp the full glory of who God is, and how powerful God is.
J. B. Philipps illustrates this with his analogy that God is like the resident policeman. He writes, “To many people, conscience is almost all that they have by way of knowledge of God. This still small voice which makes them feel guilty and unhappy before, during, or after wrongdoing…controls their conduct.
It is this which impels them to shoulder the irksome duty and choose the harder path. Now no serious advocate of a real adult religion would deny the function of conscience, or deny that its voice may at least give some inkling of the moral order that lies behind the obvious world in which we live. Yet to make conscience into God is a highly dangerous thing to do. For one thing…conscience is by no means an infallible guide; and for another it is extremely unlikely that we shall ever be moved to worship, love, and serve a nagging inner voice that at worst spoils our pleasure and at best keeps us rather negatively on the path of virtue.”
Other things that cause us to question that God is all-powerful include the problem of evil in a world God has declared, “It is Good” (Genesis 1). We find the explanation of the fallenness of the world explained in Genesis 3, but we still struggle with how much evil there is.
Also, we should never underestimate our own desire for control of our lives, and so we often reject the will of God for our own desires, wants, and dreams. The Bible tells us we do so at our own peril, but the desire for control brings about a great battle of wills, even for the most committed Christian.
If you want to read one of the most profound stories of trust in the power of God read the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. In the story Joseph is thrown into a pit by his brothers who threaten to kill him, sold instead into slavery, accused falsely of rape by the wife of his master, thrown into prison, and left to rot in the prison when he predicts the dream of one of Pharaoh’s servants who forgets about Joseph.
He sees the hand of God in all the misfortune as well as the blessings of his life, and faithfully trusts that all of what happened was a part of God’s perfect plan. When given a chance he reconciles with his brothers and says these amazing words of mercy and forgiveness, “But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:7-8).
Someone once said of God’s power, “God will bring the best possible results by the best possible means for the most possible people for the longest possible time.” When I think of the scope of such a statement I realize how little understanding I have, and that I would never be able to run a world filled with people God has granted free will. It is truly overwhelming how amazing God is to be able to balance all the complex decisions made by all people in a fallen world.
What are you going through that seems hard, unfair, depressing, or impossible? Is there someone you find it hard to forgive? What would it be like to trust our all-powerful God with it all? Is it possible that when you are uncertain that God is all-powerful, or that He cares about the decisions you make, or that He even cares about you, could it be that He knows you better than you know yourself?
Could it be that what you want will have a negative impact on many more people than what you need? Do you see why if I really want to know who you are, the first question I should ask is what you think about God?
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see lagrangepres.com.