What the Bible Teaches



Chapter 60

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Topic 10:   The fact that God is omnipotent.

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POINT 10:   God can do all things. Nothing is too hard for him. All things are possible with Him. God is omnipotent, all-powerful.

      Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.

      Genesis 18:14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.

      Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

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POINT 12:   All nature is absolutely subject to God's will and word.

      Genesis 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

      Psalms 33:6-9 [6] By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. [7] He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. [8] Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. [9] For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

      Psalms 107:25-29 [25] For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. [26] They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. [27] They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits' end. [28] Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. [29] He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

      Nahum 1:3-6 [3] The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. [4] He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. [5] The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. [6] Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.

      Jonah 1:4, 11-13, 15 [4] Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. [11] The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?" [12] "Pick me up and throw me into the sea," he replied, "and it will become calm. ... " [13] Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. [15] Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.

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POINT 12:   Life and death are subject to God's will and word.

      John 5:28-29 [28] "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice [29] and come out -- those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

      Matthew 28:52-53 [52] The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. [53] They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

      1 Kings 20:1, 4-6 [1] In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover." [4] Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the LORD came to him: [5] "Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the LORD. [6] I will add fifteen years to your life. ...'"

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POINT 12a:   Satan does not have unrestrained power of death.

   Many people erroneously think that Satan can cause death directly, i.e., that Satan can kill people. There is no basis for this in the Bible. Satan can tempt people into situations the natural consequences of which normally lead to death, e.g., drug addiction or showing off by driving recklessly. Although God may forgive the eternal consequences of sin, i.e., damnation, He does not prevent the natural consequences of either sin or foolishness. For example, if a thief is sentenced to prison and later repents of his sin, God does not automatically arrange for him to be released from prison.

   If Satan had the power to kill at his sole discretion, he would simply kill every person who lives in righteousness.

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POINT 14:   All men are absolutely subject to His will and work.

      James 4:12-15 [12] There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you -- who are you to judge your neighbor? [13] Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." [14] Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. [15] Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

   Happy is the man who voluntarily subjects himself to God's will and word.

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POINT 16:   Angels are subject to God's will and word.

      Hebrews 1:13-14 [13] To which of the angels did God ever say, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet" ? [14] Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

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POINT 18:   Satan is absolutely subject to God's will and word.

      Job 1:12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."

      Job 2:6 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life."

      Luke 22:31-32 [31] Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.

      Revelation 20:1-3 [1] And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. [2] He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. [3] He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

   The final sentence of Revelation 20:3, New American Bible, reads After that the dragon is to be released for a short time. (This translation is mentioned because it shows that there is no requirement that God set him free.)

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Topic 20:   The exercise of God's omnipotence limited by His will.

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POINT 10:   The exercise of God's omnipotence is limited by His own wise and holy and loving will. God can do anything, but will do only what infinite wisdom and holiness and love dictate.


   QUESTION: Why doesn't God simply destroy Satan?

   ANSWER: It would not be wise to destroy him yet. The only way God, saved men, and the angels can live in true peace and harmony is if those who would ultimately reject God are not present. Adam and Eve were given Paradise with no effort or travail on their part. Because they did not have to suffer for it and had nothing to compare to, they did not appreciate the magnificence of God's gift.

   God allows Satan to test each of us, for two reasons: (a) so God can see, in full view of others, who is truly faithful to Him, and (b) so those who see God condemn particular souls know that the condemnation is just. How could any fair, rational being worship God if He simply created souls and immediately judged them, saying "This huge group on my left is condemned for eternity. I know they haven't done anything wrong, but I'm omniscient. I know that if I tested them they would fail. I'm going to take a short-cut and not bother to test them."

   By his malevolence, Satan is working out part of God's benevolent plans.

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Topic 32:   Paradoxes and inadequate language do not preclude omnipotence.


   An argument commonly raised by non-believers is "If God is all-powerful, can He create a rock so big He can't lift it?"

   The question really involves a logical paradox. It falls into the same category as "an irresistible force meeting an immovable object". If a force is truly irresistible, it can move any object. Conversely, if an object is truly immovable, it can resist any force.

   These arguments really involve word games and overly-legalistic logical games. They do not prove that God is not omnipotent. They prove that Man has an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of this aspect of God's nature. They simply prove what everyone already knows - that human language is not perfect and is not capable of fully describing God's divine nature.

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Topic 42:   The Biblical concept of "omnipotence" must be different from the way we interpret "omnipotence".

   The following is a synopsis of an argument in Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith. Smith claims it is a proof that an omnipotent god cannot exist. However, that is only one possible conclusion. An alternative conclusion that is equally valid (without considering other evidence) is that, as applied to God, our interpretation of the term "omnipotent" is not correct.

1.   Something that does not exist has no characteristics.

2.   If something exists (we'll call it "X") but has absolutely no characteristics, it is not possible by any means to distinguish this X from something that does not exist.

3.   If X exists without characteristics, and therefore can not be distinguished from things that do not exist, for all practical purposes X might as well not exist, since even the mere fact of its existence cannot be determined by any means.

4.   If something exists and has characteristics (we'll call it "Y"), Y must act in conformity with its characteristics.

5.   Characteristics constitute limitations on what Y can do.

6.   If a god exists, it has characteristics. Otherwise, as indicated in item 3, for all practical purposes it might as well not exist.

7.   If a god exists and has characteristics, those characteristics constitute limitations on what that god can do.

8.   A god that is limited in what it can do is not "all powerful", not "omnipotent", even if those limitations are created solely by the god's characteristics.

   The word "omnipotent" is usually interpreted as meaning "able to do anything whatsoever". Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary, 1980, defines "omnipotent" as "Almighty; not limited in authority or power."

   The God of the Bible has many characteristics, some detailed in this book, e.g.: (1) He is eternal; (2) He is immortal; (3) He is triune, i.e, three persons in one God; (4) He hates sin so much that He must take out His anger over sin on something; (5) He loves righteousness; (6) He gets jealous; (7) He gets angry; (8) He is merciful; (9) He feels compassion; (10) He is omniscient.

   Obviously, Smith's argument proves that the "able to do anything" concept is self-contradictory; it falls in the same class as the "irresistible force meets immovable object."

   However, Smith's argument does not prove that God is not omnipotent. It merely proves that human languages do not contain words that correctly describe this supernatural characteristic of God.

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