Summary: Open Theism is a heresy that says God doesn’t know the future. Next is the question of omnipotence...whether God can handle the future.
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
A fellowship of faith, family and friendships
March 16, 2003
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span,
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales?
Isaiah 40:12 (NASB)
What represents power to you?
What does it mean to be powerful?
Is it nature’s forces or brute strength?
Is it physical strength?
Is it ability to control other people?
Is it military or political clout?
Is it a mind thing…brains?
We have been looking at the “omni” characteristics of God, and we come now to His omnipotence. The Oxford Dictionary defines “omnipotence as: Strictly said of God (or of a deity) or His attributes: Almighty or infinite in power.
I looked for synonyms of “powerful” and there are so many, influential, commanding, authoritative, prevailing, dominant, mighty, persuasive. I also remember what it is like to be without power! In the 60’s New York City had their blackout….no power. Elevators were stuck…traffic lights dark…lights off in the subways. In the 70’s the crisis with Iran brought a shortage of oil. We all waited in lines at the gas stations to fill our tanks so we’d have power. The ice storms of this past winter informed us just how vulnerable we can be. There is a power struggle going on in the world right now over just how much power Iraq should have. Organizations in business, civic or even churches can have leadership struggles and squabbles over power.
There are powerful people in the world. Naturally we would think of President Bush as holding our country’s top job. Warren Buffet and Donald Trump are the powerful masters of the deal, buying and selling. The Democrats and Republicans have a constant issue of power positioning. A few years ago at homecoming we watched Steve Bell pull Clyde Gardner’s 78,000 lb tractor-trailer with a rope, and flip a car 5 or 6 times. Power!
Now, these are all examples of power, both implicit and applied. One consideration though, is that they don’t necessarily cross lines. Steve Bell’s massive physical strength would not do him much good in politics. President Bush is politically gifted and powerful, but his office mandates that he put his business endeavors on hold while he remains in office. Business owners are not supposed to exert undue influence in politics, and so on. One realm of power doesn’t necessarily presume power in another.
This brings us to the main idea of “omnipotence” – that God crosses all lines with His power. Omni – potent…all power that can do whatever power can do.
Before we go too much down this trail, I want to take one side road to answer two questions that always surface when the subject of God’s all-powerful nature is addressed. The first question comes in many forms, but call it what it is, a statement of unbelief:
If God is good and He is all-powerful,
why does he let bad stuff happen?
This question came when Hitler murdered six million Jews; it came when the World Trade Center towers were reduced to ashes. The question comes from children and those who do not know God. It seems a reasonable question, but it really is not our question to ask.
The Bible makes it quite clear that questioning God in His ways is not the place to begin. A loose translation of Romans 9 would ask the question: Just who does the clay think it is when it demands the Potter explain Himself. Again, God’s answer to Job after he made the mistake of trying to put God on the witness stand: Where were you, little man, when I formed the heavens and earth? You think you have a right to question Me?
Yet, in His graciousness, God has already given us the answer to our question for tragedy – God lets bad stuff happen because He is good. Without the goodness of God there would not be any free choice for you and me. We would be like robots, serving God by His will alone, and not our choice. The fact that a good God has created man with free will also means that we can choose evil. And we do.
Rabbi Kushner in his book, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People, came to the conclusion that God is not all-powerful. The Rabbi’s young son had died, and the grief was too great. He came to the conclusion that God was either not good, or He could not control everything; some things were out of God’s hands. To his credit, Kushner chose to believe that God is good, but not all-powerful. The problem with the Rabbi’s thinking (and the title of his book) is that there is no such thing as “good” people. The Bible declares it,