Summary: Understanding the attributes of God helps us in our faith journey. Looking at God's omnipotence today
January 17, 2021
When we think about God . . . how would you describe God? What words and phrases would you use? If you were asked what are God’s character and attributes, what would you say they are . . .
What would that list comprise? That’s part of what we started talking about last week. For the next few weeks, we’re looking at God’s character or attributes.
As I began writing for today’s message, I planned to cover 4 of God’s character traits. By the time I was done writing, I got through a total of 1. So, we’ll be dealing with this longer than I thought.
Today, we’re going to look at God’s attribute of omnipotence. Omnipotence is about God’s power.
People have asked lots of questions about God’s power. One question that is an impossible question is - - “Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?”
Have you ever heard of this question? Or maybe you’ve asked that question. On the surface, it seems like a legitimate question, but it’s not. It’s like asking if God can make a square circle. It’s a self-contradiction.
If a circle is square it is no longer a circle. It’s a square. There is no such thing as a square circle or a rock so heavy an omnipotent God can’t lift it.
When we hear questions like that, we should reply that there is no such thing as a rock so heavy God can’t lift it, but if God could create that rock - - - then He could lift it! And by the way, there’s no such thing as a square circle, but if there were, God could make that too!
Some have stated that God is not all powerful and they try to prove it by asking this - - - “If God is all-powerful, why is there so much suffering in the world?” Why do buses crash or tornadoes destroy homes? Why do good people die young? Why do innocent people get injured? Why is there disease in the world? Why the virus? If God were all powerful, then why doesn’t He stop the suffering?
Before we say anything else, there’s a lot of honesty in that question. All of us have wondered about this at some point, usually when we or a loved one has greatly suffered. In a fallen world, it’s a very fair question.
Some years ago Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a best-selling book entitled Why Bad Things Happen to Good People. I read it in seminary. Some people loved it and found it healing. I didn’t like his premise. In the book, Kushner wrestled with these difficult questions from a very personal point of view. He wrote about his son who died at a young age from a rare disease that caused his body to age rapidly.
After his loss, Kushner came to the conclusion that he could no longer believe what he was taught about God’s goodness and power. Finally he came to the only conclusion that satisfied him. He concluded God is not all powerful. He declared “God can’t do everything.”
He explained God didn’t want his son to die — not like that, not at such a young age. God didn’t want that, but God didn’t have the power to stop it either. There are forces in the universe that are beyond even God’s control.
Many people have found the book healing and consoling. But when you come to the heart of what Kushner says, he does not believe in the omnipotence of God.
At some point in our lives, we all wonder “Why?” So we must face this question
- - - If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He use that power to stop the suffering in the world?
What Kind of God Do We Believe In?
This leads us back to the character of God. What kind of God do we believe in? If Rabbi Kushner is correct, then there is no hope. If God is not omnipotent, then evil is more powerful than God. In the end we must place our faith on the goodness and power of God. This is a crucial issue in life. Is God good and does He care for us? Is God for us or against us?
You see, if we don’t understand who God is, if even we don’t have a basic understanding of God, then when the tough times hit, we will struggle even more. That’s why reading the Bible is so important to me. In only 4 chapters a day, you’ve read God’s Word - - 15-20 minutes a day!
Last week we looked at the fact that God is eternal and infinite. He is never ending, He is without beginning or ending. He will last forever as He has no limits and is not limited by anything. I also juxtaposed God’s eternality and infinite character with our government, reminding us that the leadership will change, while the writer of Hebrews tells us - - God will not change as He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.