TRUHT FOR TODAY - BIBLICAL ESSAYS BY PASTOR PAUL MIZZI

The almighty power of God

It will indeed impress the careful observer how all things around us witness to an awesome, indeed a divine power. Whether we study zoology, astronomy, meteorology and any other scientific pursuit, it will become apparent that all creatures and all things have a Maker, indeed an Almighty Creator and Preserver.

The Book of Job takes this grand theme and expands upon it, as we hear the afflicted patriarch in conference with his three friends. But it is especially towards the end of this philosophic course that we hear God himself taking the issue with Job, and through a series of questions about origins and related matters, brings down Job (and all of us, for that matter) to where he belongs: to the dust, admiring the wonderful works of God. "Lo, these are parts of his ways; but how little a portion is heard of him? But the thunder of his power who can understand?" (Job 26:14).

However much we investigate, to whatever extent we carry our search, we still have to say, "We know but little, especially when it comes to God's attributes, and particularly his ineffable power and might.

So we must approach we reverence, and pray for a teachable spirit that we may properly respond to our Maker. For it is he who "holds back the face of his throne, and spreads the clouds upon it." "He hath compassed the waters with bounds, till the day and night come to an end" - a signal of divine strength (Job 38:8; Proverbs 8:27).

The power of God is seen in those commissions in the air and earth: thunders, lightnings, storms, earthquakes, hurricanes. The great beasts of the earth speak of his power: the different types of dinosaurs that once roamed the earth, the whale also is a prodigious monument of God's power, which is mentioned specifically in the creation account: "And God created great whales." Innumerable other creatures and acts can be mentioned to testify of God's power, and yet all this exceeds our understanding. We are astonished. No mere man can conceive of God's might; God himself alone comprehends it. Man's power is limited, his measuring rod is too short to acquire a proper idea of the incomprehensible omnipotence of God.

Therefore, infinite and incomprehensible power pertains to the nature of God, and is expressed partly in his works. Together with his wisdom, his power is stretched out before our very eyes: "Twice have I heard this, that power belongs to God" (Psalm 62:11). He is able to do exceeding abundantly about all that we can ask of thing (Ephesians 3:20). Thus it is no wonder that Power is used as a name of God (Mark 14:62).

We cannot have a conception of God, if we think him not most powerful as well as most wise; he is not a God that cannot do what he will, and perform all his pleasure. If he is restrained in his power, we imagine him limited in his essence. But if God is infinite, and indeed he is, then his power and strength must also be infinite.

Godís power described

What is power, then? Power sometimes signifies authority, and a man is said to be mighty and powerful in regard of his dominion, and the right he has to command others, but authority and power must be kept distinct.

God's power is usually divided into absolute and ordinate. By absolute power we mean that power by which God is able to do that which he will not do, but is possible to be done.

Ordinate power is that power which God decreed to use, or which he has ordained or appointed to be exercised. But ordinate and absolute power are one and the same divine power. Both are expressed in Matthew 26:53,54: "My Father can send twelve legions of angels (absolute power); but how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (ordinate)."

So God's power is that ability and strength by which he can bring to pass whatsoever pleases him, whatever his infinite wisdom can direct, and what his infinite purity can resolve. Power is not an act, but the ability to bring a something into act, to produce something. And this God's power is irresistible: "His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure" (Isaiah 46:10).

It is sufficient for God to will something; he can act what he wills only by his will, without any instruments. He needs no matter to work upon, as indeed he did during the creation week. "He commanded and they were created" (Psalm 140:5). God's counsel, resolution and execution of his will is expressed in Ephesians 1:11: "Who works all things according to the counsel of his own will," so that the power of God is a perfection, as it were, subordinate to his understanding and will, to execute the results of his wisdom, and the orders of his will. Creatures were the objects of his will from eternity, but they were not from eternity the effects of his power.

God has a powerful wisdom to attend his ends without interruption; he has a powerful mercy to remove our misery; a powerful justice to lay all misery upon offenders, a powerful truth to perform his promises, an infinite power to bestow rewards and inflict penalties. Thus God's power gives activity to all other perfections of his nature.

And this continually: for instance, the redeemed in heaven that are forever justified and glorified are forever maintained by power in that blessed condition, but the damned in hell are forever sustained in those torments without remedy by the same arm of Power.

How could this be? Because Power belongs to God, that is, solely and to none else (Psalm 62:11). He has power to create worlds, to make his subjects, to enjoin precepts, to execute penalties, without appealing to the aid of someone else. Whenever in history he acts by creatures, he does so as not needing their power, but granting power to them; what he acts by them, he could act himself without them, and what they act from themselves, is derived to them from him. The prophets and apostles who performed miracles did so by God's power, as they themselves testify (Acts 3:12: "Why do ye marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?").

Thus God can work through men, but omnipotence itself is incommunicable, for to be omnipotent is to be God. By the very nature of the case, no creature can inherit it. God is hereby distinguished from all others. Omnipotence is essentially in God. And if so, then this power is infinite, or what the Scripture calls, "the exceeding greatness of his power" (Ephesians 1:19). No creature can imitate God in this prerogative of power, just as none can forgive sins, but God alone.

Again, if God is of infinite power, he must necessarily be eternal, having no beginning, for to be a creature and to be infinite, and to be infinite and yet made is a contradiction. To be infinite and to be God is one and the same. Nothing can be infinite but God; nothing but God is infinite. But the power of God is infinite, because it can produce infinite effects, or innumerable things, such as is beyond our computation.

Furthermore, nothing that God ever did enfeebled or dulled his power; there still resides in him an ability beyond our comprehension. It is written that he can even now raise stones to be children to Abraham (Matthew 3:9), so we need not despair at the apparent failure of the church, but appeal to him to manifest his power, to establish his people and multiply them. For as Jeremiah said: "There is nothing too hard for thee" (32:17); and Job: "Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out; he is excellent in power and in judgement" (36:23).

Power in relation to other attributes

But God is most free. He does not act by a necessity of nature, as the waves of the sea, or the motions of the wind. He is not determined to those things which he has already called forth into the world. It is according to his will that he works (Ephesians 1). His work is an evidence of his will, but not the rule of his will. The Lord Jesus, as man, could have asked legions of angels, and God, as a sovereign, could have sent them (Matthew 26:53). God could raise the dead every day if he pleased; but he does not. He could heal every sickness, but he does not.

His power is infinite in regard of the independency of action; God does not depend on any instrumentality. When there was nothing but God, there was no cause of actions but God' when there was nothing in being but god, there could be no instrumental cause of the being of anything.

Though God can make everything with a higher degree of perfection, yet still he does it within the limits of a finite being. No creature can be made infinite, because no creature can be made God. Whatsoever perfections may be added by God to a creature, these are still finite perfections; and a multitude of finite excellencies can never amount to the value of the infinite. The Trine God is so great, so excellent, that it is his perfection not to have any equal. Again, though God has power to furnish every creature with greater and nobler perfections than he has actually bestowed upon it, yet he has framed all things in the most perfect manner, and most convenient to that end for which he intended them.

God therefore determined his power by his wisdom; and though his absolute power could have made every creature better, yet his ordinate power, regulated by his wisdom, made everything best for his designed intention. For instance, he could have prepared the body for Christ as glorious as he had after his resurrection, but it would not have been agreeable to the end designed in his humiliation.

Though God has an absolute power to make more worlds and infinite numbers of other creatures, yet in regard of his decree to the contrary, he cannot do it. The exercise of his power is subordinate to his decree. His not creating more is not a want of strength, but a want of will; it is an act of liberty, not an act of impotency. He remains girded about with more power than he puts forth (Psalm 65:6). In regard to its duration, God's power is eternal (Romans 1:20). And if eternal, infinite (Isaiah 40:28).

What God cannot do

But this brings us to another consideration: it is impossible for God to do certain things. In making this statement, though, we are guarding his omnipotence. Some things cannot be done, such as are impossible in their own nature. For instance, all things that imply a contradiction, as making a thing to exist and not to exist at the same time. It is impossible that vice and virtue, light and darkness, life and death, should be the same thing.

Some things, furthermore, are impossible to the nature and being of God. God cannot die; he cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18); he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13); he cannot be unjust. God cannot do anything unsuitable to his holiness and goodness, or anything unworthy of himself. He cannot will any unrighteous thing, and therefore cannot do any unrighteousness.

God is omnipotent because he cannot do evil, and would not be so if he could; those things would be marks of weakness, and not majesty. It is contrary to the righteousness and truth of God to make that which was once true to become false, and not true.

Again, some things are impossible to be done, because of God's ordination. God might have destroyed the world after Adam's sin, but it was impossible; not that God lacked power to do it; but because he did not only decree from eternity to create the world, but did also decree to redeem the world by Jesus Christ, and made the world in order to the manifestation of his "glory in Christ" (Ephesians 1:4,5). It was not possible for the cup to pass from the Saviour, because of the determination of God's will.

Proofs of God's omnipotence

"Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14). By this rhetorical question it is declared that there are no limits to his omnipotence, and yet even great men of God, such as Moses, have at one time or another doubted his power: "Shall the flocks and the hers be slain for them to suffice them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them?" (Numbers 11:22). What! Is the Lord's hand waxed short?

His eternity and power are linked together as equally demonstrable to all human minds (Romans 1:20). God is even called El Elohim, the God of gods (Daniel 11:36), the Mighty of mighties. God communicates to the creature whatever power the creature exercises; consequently He must have absolute power (Psalm 94:10). If He who teaches knowledge must be knowledgeable, then he who grants power must be powerful. He is the Original of all distinct powers.

God is the first Being, and the source of all being. He is. All other things are nothing to him, "less than nothing and vanity" (Isaiah 40:17), and "reputed as nothing" (Daniel 4:35).

Again, if God were not omnipotent, we might imagine something more perfect than God. But this is absurd, for "Canst thou by searching find out God, canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?" (Job 11:7).

The simplicity of God is another proof of his omnipotence. Every substance, the more spiritual it is, the more powerful it is. Angels, being spirits, are more powerful than bodies. Where there is the greatest simplicity, there is the greatest unity; and where there is the greatest unity, there is the greatest power. All this is found most perfectly in God.

Miracles, throughout world history, have been a concrete evidence of God's power. Extraordinary events have awakened men from the stupidity, to the acknowledgement of the immensity of God's power. Whosoever denies the genuine miracles as recorded in the Bible virtually denies God. All the miracles which were wrought by the apostles, were not effected by any virtue inherent in their words or in their touches; for such virtue inherent in any created finite subject would be created and finite itself, and consequently were incapable to produce effects which required an infinite virtue, as miracles do which are above the power of nature. "God alone doth wonders" (Psalm 136:4); thus the Bible excludes every other cause from producing these things. Counterfeit miracles, such as Satan's messengers perform, are simply that, counterfeit.

How God's power appears in creation

God gave existence and endowments to all his creatures in the world (Job 38). All that is in heaven and earth is his, and shows the greatness of his power, glory, victory, and majesty (1 Chronicles 29:11). The heaven is so magnificent a piece of work, that it is called emphatically, "The firmament of his power" (Psalm 150:1). "The firmament showeth his handy work" (Psalm 19:1). And the heavens are peculiarly called "the work of his fingers" (Psalm 8:3).

His power is the first thing evident in the story of his creation (Genesis 1:1). Only later is his wisdom pointed out as evident in the same work.

By this creative power God is often distinguished from all the idols and false gods of the world. "I, even I, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded." And what is the issue? "They shall be shamed and confounded, all of them, that are makers of idols." (cf. Jeremiah 10:11,16). Upon this is founded all the worship he requires in heaven and earth, as his peculiar glory. "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, honour and power, for thou has created all things" (Revelation 4:11). God created ex nihilo, without any pre-existent matter. The pagan philosophy of evolution falls to the ground.

The creation of things from nothings speaks of infinite power. The distance between nothing and being has been always counted so great, that nothing but an Infinite Power can make such distances to meet together. God, as Creator, has the only prerogative to draw what he pleases from nothing, without any defect, without any imperfection; he can raise what matter he pleases, and ennoble it with what form he pleases. All things he does most easily and with the greatest facility, for God created the world by a word, by a simple act of his will. "Let there be light, and there was light." (cf. Psalm 33:9; 147:5). Creation is therefore entitled a calling (Romans 4:17): "He calls those things which are not as if they were."

And though he rested after the creation, it is to be meant a rest from work, not a repose from weariness, for "The Creator of the ends of the earth is not weary" (Isaiah 40:28).

How God's power appears in providence

He is the "Preserver of man and beast" (Psalm 36:6). We find that nothing has power to preserve itself. "Can the rush grow up without mire? Can the flag grow up without water?" (Job 8:11). Can man be maintained without food and air? When the appointed time set for the creature comes to an end, it faints and returns to its elements, and perish (Psalm 104:29)

It appears also in propagation. "Increase and multiply." The One who commands is the same who enables. Thus David praises God for the forming of his body (Psalm 139:14). Besides, it appears also in the motions of all creatures (Acts 17:28). Nothing can act without the almighty influx of God, no more than it can exist without the creative word of God. Whatsoever nature works, God works in nature; nature is the instrument, God is the supporter, director, mover of nature. "Lord, thou hast wrought all our work in us" (Isaiah 26:12). They are works subjectively, efficiently, as second causes; God's works originally, concurrently.

His power is also evident in moral government. I mention first the restraint of God upon the maliciousness and wickedness of the devil and his angels. If Satan, a mighty angel, is to be curbed, a power mightier than he must prevail upon him.

Again, it is evident in the restraint of the natural corruption of men. What havoc would men make of the world and of each other, were they not suppressed by the divine power which presides over the hearts of men. Man "drinks iniquity like water, being by nature abominable and filthy (Job 15:16). Pharaoh, for all his power, was but God's instrument by which the divine power was made all the more manifest.

God also orders and frames the hearts of men to his own ends. Omnipotence grasps and contains the hearts of all men, from the meanest to the highest potentates. He turns the heart of the kings like the rivers of water.

Furthermore, God's power is apparent in his gracious and judicial government. He is the strength of Israel (1 Samuel 15:29). He delivers the church and protects the little flock from the ravenousness of wolves. When Pharaoh mustered a great army to pursue God's people, God made the waters their tombs. The deluge, ridiculed by scholarly pagans today, is no small testimony of God's judicial power (Genesis 7:17-20). Job makes an argument in favour of God's strength by mentioning the overthrow of the mighty (12:13,14). "He brings princes to nothing, and makes the judges of the earth as vanity" (Isaiah 40:23,24).

He orders the nature of creatures as he pleases: he shut the mouth of famished lions; he made the sun to stand still; the shadow to turn backwards; the iron to float; the manna to be supplied for forty years; the plagues to smite the Egyptians while the Israelites were spared. He directs the arrow to fly and hit what mark he pleases. The Bible is replete with testimonia concerning his acts of power.

How God's power appears in redemption

The Saviour is called both the wisdom and the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). The way of salvation could not be contrived but by an Infinite Wisdom, and it could not be accomplished but by an Infinite Power. "With men this is impossible," that is, to enter the kingdom of heaven, "but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

It required infinite power to effect the conception of the Son in the womb of the virgin (Luke 1:35). By this manner of conception the holiness of Christ's nature is secured, and his fitness for his office is assured to us.

The Incarnation is an evident act of almighty power. The One Redeemer has two natures, the divine and human. The terms of this union was infinitely distant. What greater distance can there be between eternity and time, between the Creator and the creature? Yet the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and in his dwells all the fullness of deity in bodily form.

God's power was evident in the progress of his life; in the miracles he wrought, "for no one can do these miracles except God be with him." Later on, divine power was again exercised in his resurrection (Romans 1:4), by which the glory of the Father appeared (Romans 6:4; cf. Ephesians 1:19).

God's power continues to be made manifest even to this day in the publication and propagation of the gospel. The gospel goes against the grain of human nature; the natural man is averse to it and yet it finds acceptance in the hearts of men: this is God's doing, for faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

The instruments employed in the furtherance of the gospel are weak and mocked in the eyes of men; it is the folly of what we preach that men are saved. The church does not use worldly and carnal means to advance the truth of God, and yet his truth is marching on. Its weapons are "mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4). And preachers take heed not to use "enticing words of man's wisdom" (1 Corinthians 2:4), so that the result would be manifestly God's doing. Indeed Christ is described as a "mighty Conqueror" (Revelation 6:2).

In the application of redemption, God's power appears in the planting of his grace within the hearts of men, teaching them to renounce ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly; in the pardon of sin and in the preserving of his grace (1 Peter 1:5). Conversion is said to be wrought by his arm (Isaiah 53:1). There is not only an irresistible force used in it, but an agreeable sweetness. God does not overrule man's will but changes it, making it willing in the day of his power. Man is both unwilling and unable to change his inmost character (Jeremiah 13:23); yet his is transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Not only so, but God enables his own to resist temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

How we may profit from this doctrine

The deity of all three persons of the Trinity is affirmed by omnipotence being ascribed to them.

The blessedness of God is evidenced: if he is almighty, then he can want nothing; all want speaks weakness.

Here we see also the ground for the immutability of God. Since God is forever the same, almighty, true, holy, righteous, and merciful, then he surely deserves our worship (cf. 2 Kings 17:36). He is to be trusted in daily life and in all trails (Romans 4:21). He can still provide a table in the wilderness.

Since his power is so unfathomable, how strange is it that it should be contemned and abused by mere creatures as it is! In general all idolatry arises from a want of a due notion of this Infinite Power.

We despise his power whenever we persist in sin; and whenever we distrust him. The Anakims may be giants compared to us; but God himself made the giants and they are less than nothing before him. If God, then, be for us, who can be against us?

We contemn the power of God when we fear man unduly. It takes away the glory of his might and renders the creature stronger than God. But Christ says, "For not them who after having killed the body cannot do anything else; rather fear him who after having killed has authority to cast into hell..."

Furthermore, we disregard God's power when we trust in others rather than in him. God upbraids those that sought help from Egypt, telling them, "The Egyptians were men, and not gods," (Isaiah 31:3). We also disown his power when we disbelieve the Gospel.

Besides, we must pay attention that we do not abuse his power by appealing to it to justify contradictions, as is done by Romanists to support their wicked doctrine of transubstantiation. By the same token, we may appeal to God's omnipotence to believe Aesop's fables to be true.

The doctrine of God's power does not encourage us to disregard the means that God himself commands us to us. Should our life be in danger, we should not test God's power on our behalf. Christ did not presume on God's power when he knew that men were seeking his life; he withdrew (John 11:53,54).

Just as God's power fills the wicked with terror, so it is a comfort for his people who walk in his ways. They find his power to be a sure stay in all afflictions and distresses, for he is able to work all things for their own good. "My help comes from the Lord, which made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2). In our temptations, we are to be strong in the power of his might (Ephesians 6:10). Our sufficiency is in him. From the infiniteness of power in God, we have ground of assurance for perseverance. The church may be battered, but it will surely be brought to its desired haven. Thus we are called to meditate frequently on God's attributes, and not least his omnipotence. "Happy is he whose hope is in the Lord his God, which made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that therein is" (Psalm 146:1). "Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength" (Isaiah 26:4). We have his promises and we know that he has all ability to make his promises good (Romans 4:21). "Our fathers trusted in thee, and thou didst deliver them" (Psalm 22:4).

This doctrine then teaches us humility and submission. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God" (1 Peter 5:6). Our eyes and our hearts are to be lifted up to him, expecting all good from him alone. And as for the batterings of Hades against the church, we know that God is "a mighty fortress, a bulwark never failing," as God's servants have always experienced him to be. If God will be arise his enemies will be scattered! (Psalm 68:1; cf. Isaiah 40:23,24).

Finally this doctrine impresses upon our souls the fear of God. "Thou are great and thy name is great in might; who would not fear thee, O thou King of nations?" (Jeremiah 10:6,7).

Godís omnipotence: Biblical evidences 1. Some seventy times God is ascribed this absolute and unique power, by being designated as the Almighty (in the New Testament pantokrator); and 'El-Shaddai in the Old Testament which emphatically stresses the power of God (Job 9:12; Psalm 115:3; Jeremiah 32:17). He is the Possessor of all power and authority; this is declared by direct statement.

2. His omnipotence is not only seen in the original creation, but also in the new creation, for which we eagerly wait.

3. God is able to create new things (Matthew 3:9), even bringing life out of death (Romans 4:17).

4. His awesome power is manifested continually and daily in the preservation of his own creation (Colossians 1:17; Psalm 36:6; 145:14-16; Hebrews 1:3).

5. It is gloriously manifested in the resurrection of his Son (Romans 1:3).

6. Also, in that great redemption accomplished in his humiliation and exaltation (Luke 1:65-69; Ephesians 1:19).

7. His power is promised to his own in gathering them and preserving them as his own people, even unto this day (Ephesians 3:20). This he does by converting them, again using his power (Psalm 51:13; 2 Corinthians 4:7-11; Romans 1:16), and keeping them (1 Peter 1:5).

8. He continually restrains evil in wicked and ungodly people (Romans 9:17,22).

God's power is manifested

Exodus 7:1-5.

The Westminster Confession (2:2) says that God does not derive any glory from his creatures, but only manifests his own glory, in, by, unto, and upon them... Here we have a case in point, where God delegates his (miraculous) power and authority to Moses, "I have made thee a god to Pharaoh." Also, Aaron is God's spokesman and messenger as he accompanies his brother in the confrontation before the king of Egypt. His power is all the more manifested in Pharaoh by fashioning him in such a way as to resist his will and yet having respect to Pharaoh as a responsible and moral being. God's power is seen in his multiplying his signs and wonders amidst all the land, and at the same time sparing his own people, that showing that his power is not blind and capricious, but serves his all-wise purpose. His power is seen in the Egyptians, a pagan and idolatrous people, confessing, albeit unwillingly, that Jehovah is the true and awesome God. Something that must not be missed is in v.6: God's power is seen in working a childlike obedience in both Moses and Aaron, to accomplish his will.

Psalm 75:6,7.

Exaltation and promotion and advancement in our station is not to be found anything, but in God, the governor and judge of all. Interestingly enough, the east and west and south are mentioned, but not the north, for "Our God is in heaven," and the Bible, speaking our everyday language, reserves the north for him, "I will life up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1,2). Whenever we need deliverance or protection, these verses indicate only one source of power and emancipation, from God almighty, who as Judge, has power to cast down and to exalt (see also Psalm 147:6; 1 Samuel 2:7; Daniel 2:21; and the whole of Psalm 113). The final decision concerning our affairs comes from Him who is both all-powerful and righteous altogether (the Judge).

Luke 12:13-21.

The potentates of the earth, whether political, economical (as in the case of the parable) or religious, make their plans and are often found to be arrogant, forgetting that "our God is in heaven, he does whatever he pleases." They proudly assume that it is up to them to expand their businesses and wealth. But against all expectations, the Lord often intervenes and makes his counsel known: "This night they soul shall be required of thee." For in him lies all power of life and death. Accordingly he admonishes us to beware lest we become proud and haughty when we become rich, thinking that it is our power that obtained for us our riches. God frustrates our purposes to make his power known, for though we have some sort of power, all the nations are less than nothing before him, as a drop of water in a bucket.

John 17:2.

Not only in the realm of economics and worldly affairs, but most importantly in the domain of grace, God's authority and power are most explicitly made known, to bring to naught the things that are, so that none may boast before him. Indeed our boast is in Christ Jesus, for he alone is vested with power to make alive sinners who once were dead in trespasses and sins.

This same thought is stamped upon our intellect earlier on, "to all those who received him he gave them power to become children of God..." We have not this power in ourselves; it is not of them who will, or of them who run, but of God who shows mercy, through his appointed Mediator. And Christ' sovereign power is hereby declared, for whilst he says that he will grant eternal life to all those incorporated within the covenant of grace, he implies that others do not receive this grace, though he has authority and power over them too. Election and reprobation are within God's power.

Acts 17:28.

Though Paul gleaned the wording from the pagan poet Aratus, here we have a truth that should be self-evident and yet the world, in its unrighteousness, suppresses it, and assumes that man is the measure of all things, and can indeed live without God. But "in him we live," our moment-by-moment preservation is due to God (Daniel 5:23c: "But the God in whose hand are your life-breath and your ways, you have not glorified").

God can live and is all-sufficient without the creation, but creation, on the other hand, necessarily depends on him. In him "we move," or rather, to translate literally, "are moved" (passive voice), which makes it all the more impressive, for our movements are thus shown to be not from ourselves, but from God. Putting it comprehensively, in God we "have our being," or simply, "we are." Such a declaration of God's power!

The philosophers thought they could serve God with human hands, sort of God is dependent on us; Paul affirms that the very opposite is true, thus pointing to us the grassroots of true religion. He is the mysterium tremendum in whom we live, and thus fittingly enough we need to acknowledge and trust implicitly.

Godís power highlighted

The following areas evidently reflect the power of God.

1. The creation of the universe ex nihilo, that is without the use of any pre-existent matter, simply by God's volition (Genesis 1:1ff.; Romans 1:20; 4:17; Isaiah 44:24).

2. The preservation of the same universe, of all things visible and invisible, by the same hand of power (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:17; Psalm 36:6; 145:14-16).

3. God's restraining of evil (Romans 9:17,22).

4. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is presented as the main New Testament act of power from on high (2 Corinthians 13:4).

5. The result of Christ's humiliation and exaltation is the redemption of God's own people, which in itself is depicted as a yet greater feat of power than the original creation (Luke 1:68,69; Ephesians 1:19). Salvation is of God's grace but no less of God's power (1 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Matthew 19:26; Romans 1:16).

6. The way God works among the children of men to gather his own into one church; thus the conversion of sinners is a proof of God's power (Psalm 51:13; 2 Corinthians 4:7-11); God is powerfully operative within his church (Ephesians 3:20).

7. Not only does God powerfully call by his Word and Spirit, but he successfully preserves his elect unto salvation; and this against all odds, when you consider the malice of Satan and the corruptions that still exist within the saint's heart during his earthly pilgrimage (1 Peter 1:5).

8. Charnock also mentions and expands upon the resurrection at the last day, which is also presented in Scripture as a proof of God's power, among other things (1 Corinthians 15:43).

9. The general judgement immediately following is worthy only of Almighty God (Ezekiel 22:13,14; Romans 9:22). He is able to bless the righteous and condemn the wicked (Philippians 3:21; Matthew 25:34-46).

10. In general God's power is evident in that he successfully does all things according to his will; what he desires, that he does (Jeremiah 32:27; Zechariah 8:6; Matthew 3:9; 19:26; 26:53).