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Is God Omnipotent?

by Roger Patterson on April 7, 2014
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Is God omnipotent? Can He do anything or not? Consider the following verses, noting especially the last two:

I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. (Job 42:2)
Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. (Jeremiah 32:17)
Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? (Jeremiah 32:27)
Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. (Genesis 18:14)
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” (Revelation 19:6)
By two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us (Hebrews 6:18).
. . . in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. (Titus 1:2)
But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. (Psalm 115:3)
God is above His creation, not a part of it, and thus He is able to exercise full authority and power.

Throughout Scripture, God is described as being able to do anything that He desires. This is typically referred to as the attribute of omnipotence—to possess all power. As we think about our human condition, it is easy to see that we are not omnipotent—we cannot do anything we desire. As the Creator, God has authority over His creatures and limits the power and abilities that He gives to them. But God is above His creation, not a part of it, and thus He is able to exercise full authority and power.

Skeptics have read the clear claims of the omnipotence of God from Genesis to Revelation. But then they have found a few instances in the Bible that seem to indicate God is limited in His ability or power to accomplish certain things. In general, this sort of claim related to God’s abilities is called an “omnipotence paradox.” For instance, Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2 clearly state that God cannot lie. The Hebrews passage even says that it is impossible for God to lie and affirms His unchanging character. It is that unchanging character, His immutability, that gives every believer great hope in the salvation that was secured for them through the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

“How Can God Do ‘Anything’ If He Cannot Lie?”

Although this might seem like a contradiction, there is truly no conflict when we consider that God tells us in many places that He will not lie (Numbers 23:19;1 Samuel 15:29). We also understand that God’s character is unchanging. In 2 Timothy 2:13 we read that “He cannot deny Himself.” God is a rational being and He communicates with us to reveal His character.

If God were to do anything that violated His character, He would no longer be God. Since God has revealed that He is faithful and cannot lie, to tell a lie would make Him unfaithful. Rather than being a contradiction, this is actually an affirmation of the consistency and character of God. He can do anything that is consistent with His character. God has no desire to lie since lying is a sin.

“Can God Create a Rock So Big that He Cannot Lift It?”

A simple answer to this question would be “No.” As the Creator, He has also created the laws that govern the physical universe, but He is not bound to those laws. So this question is actually illogical from the beginning since it assumes God is bound by gravity. It doesn’t demonstrate a contradiction by limiting God’s abilities.

“Can God Make a Square Circle?”

By definition a circle cannot be square, so to create a square circle would be to violate the law of noncontradiction. Making a square circle is an impossibility under any circumstance. It is only because of the character of God, who created an ordered universe, that we can even understand what a circle is. To say that God cannot make a square circle or a flat sphere is not a demonstration of a contradiction in His abilities.

Conclusion

When we begin with the straightforward truths of Scripture and an accurate understanding of God’s absolutely consistent character, there is no contradiction in the Bible. God’s omnipotence must be understood in light of what is revealed in Scripture and with what is logically possible. It is irrational to suggest that anyone or anything could do something that is self-contradictory. We must agree with Scripture that God cannot lie, that He cannot sin, and that He cannot violate His own character. But we must reject the claim that statements of His authority over His creation contradict statements about His character.

So, is God omnipotent? The clear, biblical answer is yes. To say that nothing is impossible for the Lord is to say that nothing that is possible according to God’s character and purpose is impossible for the Creator of the universe.

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