Summary: God is all powerful, but He chooses to limit that power because He is also love.
GOD IS OMNIPOTENT PART 1 Based on Rev. 1:1-8
By Pastor Glenn Pease
Alfred North Whitehead, one of the philosophical giants of the 20th century, said, "The glorification of power has broken more hearts than it has healed." He warns against the glorifying of even God’s power. For the abuse of power all through history makes this attribute produce fear rather than faith.
If the authority figures in one’s life have been people who abused power, than power will be seen as negative. For people who have lived with a tyrant father, or under a political tyrant, the concept of an all-powerful God is frightening. Whitehead points out that power is not good or evil in itself. It can be used for both, and so it is not worthy of worship in itself. Satan too has great power, but he is not worthy of worship because of that power, for his power is devoted to evil, and the destruction of all that is good.
Back in ancient Greek history men knew that power was dangerous, and that it was not a good thing even in the hands of the gods. Aesclyus wrote Prometheus Bound, and in it he tells of how Prometheus helped Zeus dethrone the Titans, and become the supreme God. But soon Prometheus was disillusioned, for Zeus used his power to rule lawlessly. He cared not for what was good for man, but only about sheer power. He was nothing but a big bully abusing his power. Prometheus loved man, and he saw sought to help men by giving him fire and general help in the use of his gifts and reason.
Zeus despised him for his love of man, and he chained him and tortured him.Prometheus would not bow to the power of Zeus. He became the hero of all who fight and resist tyranny. He said, "Worship, adore, court him who is now in power, But I, for Zeus less than naught do I care." He predicted that the chief God was doomed to fall in spite of his power, for power corrupts and leads to weakness. He said again,
"Then bravely there
Let him sit trusting in his heavenly thunders,
With hands that brandish his fire-breathing blot.
Naught shall avail these to prevent his falling
Ignoble with a fall intolerable."
Here is a pagan poet teaching us that power is not worthy of worship. If the pagan mind can come to this conclusion, then we need to be extremely careful in how we promote the omnipotence of God. It has often been so portrayed that it stimulates rebellion toward God rather than attraction. That which makes God attractive and worthy of worship is not His power, but His goodness. The Bible does not exalt power for power’s sake, but, rather, exalts the moral qualities of God. It is the goodness, holiness, righteousness, and love that control the power of God. His power is always devoted to overcoming evil with good.
He has the power to judge and condemn, but that is always the last choice after He has exhausted every avenue to prevent it by His grace and mercy. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. In His grace He has made it possible for all to repent and be forgiven. His first use of power is always positive. It is used to prevent the negative use of power. The primary task of the prophets was to warn Israel and the other nations round about, so they could respond in repentance and obedience and not have to endure the power of God’s judgment.
The whole Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. It is the story of God’s power in providing a Savior, and God’s power in overcoming Satan and death that there might be adequate provision for every sinner to become a child of God, and escape the judgment of God. God’s power is directed toward a positive purpose, and it is limited by love. In other words, although God is all powerful, He cannot use that power for that which is inconsistent with His moral attributes. He cannot be unloving and unholy, and in any way be inconsistent with those attributes that make Him honorable, admirable, and worthy of our worship.
The God of the Bible cannot be a Zeus, who arbitrarily uses power to achieve selfish ends regardless of who gets hurt, and how unjust and immoral it might be. God cannot be a tyrant. All of His power must enhance the goals of love, and this is what makes the God of the Bible the God who alone is worthy of our love and worship. We only love God because He first loved us. If we do not present to men a God whom they can love, they will not love Him. That is why it is so important for us to understand the omnipotence of God. Lack of understanding, and misunderstanding, does great harm to the cause of God in the minds of men.