In Handel’s Messiah, the famous “Hallelujah Chorus” quotes the Book of Revelation, proclaiming: “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!” (19:6). Omnipotence means “able to do all.” God is all-powerful; He is unlimited. He can do all that He wills to do. He simply speaks, and it is accomplished. Even with a shaken faith, Job confessed to God, “I know You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be hindered” (42:2).
“Almighty” is another word used in Scripture, always referring to God alone. It speaks of infinite power. God will never have less power. It is not His nature to be limited or weak. We depend on God; He depends on no one. “God upholds all things by the word of His power,” Hebrews 11:3. Everything runs from God--the Source of all power. There is no cause or power prior to Him. “God has the all-sufficient ability to do whatever the task of being God requires” (Oden). People are often corrupted by power; yet God--with absolute power--remains holy. This is because God’s power is expressed in harmony with His love, mercy, and wisdom.
In Star Trek, Chief Engineer Scottie of the Starship Enterprise frequently complained: “Captain, I ken na get no power!” Do you ever feel powerless? You do your best, yet it’s not enough. We cannot will anything into existence; our power is narrowly confined. But in removing all limitations of power, we arrive at the omnipotence of God. He willed the universe into existence. He said, “Let there be light” and there was light.
“God is powerful, yet personal” (Tozer). He is not a distant, impersonal force of nature, but the loving Creator who made us and who cares foer us individually. In spite of all the billions of people populating the world, God knows us personally…and He wants us to know Him. God assures us that, even though He is almighty, it’s safe to approach God in prayer and to be at ease in His presence. God has claimed us as His own, and He will never let us go.
Skeptics ask, “Can God make a rock too heavy for Him to lift?” The answer is: God never acts contrary to His nature. It is not that He can’t make such a rock; He won’t. In the wilderness temptation, Satan told Jesus (who was fasting) to turn stones into bread. Could He? Jesus knew He could, but refused. God can do all things that are consistent with His divine character. He will not do anything self-contradictory or inconsistent with his attributes. “It is God’s nature to be self-consistent” (Oden).
People who have difficulty accepting the miracles of the Bible have a problem with God. They don’t believe He is capable of parting the sea, of healing the sick, or raising the dead. C.S. Lewis said that such people have a dislike of the miraculous; even if He could, they doubt if God would alter the laws of nature. But He made them, and He can do as He pleases. The Almighty is not subject to nature.
When an angel told childless Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son in their old age, Sarah laughed; the very notion was outrageous. They were an elderly couple whose dream has died; they were a couple without a future. Their faith was being tested and they doubted God’s promise (doubt often coexists with faith). They were gently rebuked for their unbelief, and told, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). We all know what it’s like to be weak in faith.
When Israel was in captivity in Babylon, with all their hopes dashed, the prophet Jeremiah affirmed his confidence in God’s ability to return them from exile to the land of promise. He prayed: “There is nothing too hard for Thee” (Jer. 32:17).
After seeing a wealthy man reject the Gospel message, Jesus’ disciples asked how could self-made people ever humble themselves and embrace the Truth? Jesus responded: “With people it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God,” Mark 10:27. I suspect God wasn’t finished with that young man who turned away.
At the feeding of the 5,000, when Jesus asked His disciples what food they had to feed the crowd, they said, “Nothing but a few loaves and a couple of fish.” They forgot that God is good at making something out of nothing. “Nothing is God’s favorite material to work with” (Bolz-Weber). Maybe we feel like we’re insignificant, nothing special. When we do, God says: “Now that I can do something with!”
By taking on our humanity, Jesus set aside some of His power (Philippians 2). Going back to our question, “Can God make a rock too heavy for Him to lift?” another answer is that He did: when God-the-Son became a man. He hung powerless on a Roman cross, yet “His power is displayed in the weakness of the cross” (D.A. Carson). The King of kings didn’t cling to His power but gave of Himself, for us; the sovereign became a servant. His sacrifice revealed the greatest power the world has ever known. “The power of the cross is the only thing in all the world to conquer and cancel the debt of our sin” (Lessin).
We have access to this power. Jesus promised His followers, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). With the coming of the Spirit came power to overcome the world. “Our basic problem is not knowing how to live; it is lacking the power to live as we ought” (Paul Little). God’s might is available; we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Phil 4:13). Spiritual growth is a process where God’s Spirit permeates our lives, empowering us. God is able to keep us moving and keep us from falling (Jude 24). We know the Spirit is working in us when we’re making progress.
A football in my hands isn’t worth much. In Tom Brady’s hands a football is worth a lot. In whose hands are we putting our concerns, our hopes, our struggles, our dreams? In our own, or in God’s capable hands? When our lives seem out of control, the power of God is a comforting truth to latch onto. We’re trusting One who is able to deliver us, able to transform our lives. He can do awesome things through us. The world may seem chaotic, but the forces of nature and the actions of people cannot frustrate God’s purpose.
This unlimited power of God is something to think of when we fear God can’t help us.
After being miraculously delivered from Egypt, the Israelites distrusted the power of God to provide for them in the wilderness. They found out that God can do things that go beyond the range of human perception. Peter joined Jesus on the water, then doubted Jesus’ ability and started to sink, and was told, “O you of little faith” (Mt 8:26). “If we know God, we know He can do all things” (Charnock). He is able to supply our needs. The Apostle Paul writes that God’s “power is perfected in weakness” (II Cor. 12:9). We are weak, but God is strong.
“Power belongs to God,” Psalm 62:11. Blaise Pascal noted: “The most distinguishing feature of God’s omnipotence is that our imagination gets lost when thinking about it.” Job marveled in reverent awe: “The thunder of God’s power, who can understand?” God’s might is overwhelming. He is “able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to His power at work within us,” Ephesians 3:2. Let’s recognize our inadequacy without God and our invincibility with Him. May the omnipotence of God be the measure of our expectations.