Archive for the ‘Attributes of God’ Category

Omnipotence & Sin

March 31, 2007

The teaching of the omnipotent God is glorious in His display of power and glory. But of course we are not used to thinking of God’s power in terms of God Himself. God’s power is simply His ability to do what He pleases. God’s power is not seen in His lifting huge weights, but in His carrying out what He has decreed.

As we look upon the world, we see a mass of humanity running around in rebellion against God seemingly free from constraint to sin as they please. If God is all-powerful, then how can that be? Is God really in control? Surely a God of love and high moral standards would not let sin run so free. Many have tried to show that God cannot be both omnipotent and omni-benevolent at the same time. However, all they have shown is that God cannot be benevolent in the humanistic way they want to set that out. God is God and He is the kind of love that He is and not the kind that fallen man sets out as a standard for Him to meet. The Scripture is the guide and not fallen humanity that lives in intellectual and moral darkness.

Genesis 4:7 was an instruction to Cain that sin wanted him. Genesis 6:5 tells us the extent of the sin that each human has flowing from the heart. Each human being is given over to sinful motives and intents each moment of his or her existence apart from Christ. We can look at those two verses and know that unless God was restraining the evil in the human heart humanity would have destroyed itself a long time ago. Each human heart wants to be god to itself and others. If each person had his or her way all of humanity would be for his or her selfish use. If God did not rule over man with supreme power, there would be no civilization at all. This shows the restraining power of God over all humanity.

In Genesis 19-20 Abraham went to the land of the Philistines because there was a famine. He was afraid since his wife was beautiful that he would be killed so that she could be taken by another. So he told them that she was his sister. Abimelech was the king of that area and he took Sarah to be his wife. God sent judgment upon his household and then revealed this to him in a dream. God told Abimelech that He kept him from sinning against Him. This demonstrates the power that God has in keeping a man away from his new and beautiful wife.

We have an amazing story in Exodus 34. Three times a year all the males were to appear before God (v. 23). While they were gone the land would be left open for raiders to come in and steal the crops and the women. But the promise of God in v. 24 was that no one would even covet their land while they were gone. If we meditate on that for even a few moments, the power of God shines. God is so powerful that He is able to guarantee that no man would even covet the property of the Israelites while they were gone.

On the other hand, we have verses from the other side as well. “But My people did not listen to My voice, And Israel did not obey Me. 12 “So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, To walk in their own devices” (Psalm 81:11-12). When people do not listen to God and obey Him, He gives them over to the stubbornness of their hearts to walk in their own ways and devices and that is sin. This sounds a lot like Romans 1:18-31 where God punishes people for their sin by hardening their heart and turning them over to more and more sin. This is the power of God in judging sin by turning people over to more sin.

“For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (II Thess 2:11-12). This text shows that the Lord punishes people by sending deluding influences upon them in order that they will believe what is false. This is a judgment upon them because they did not believe the truth but instead took pleasure in wickedness. Here we see the power of God in judging the people for their sin by turning them over to more sin.

We see the power of God over sin when we are taught to pray to be kept from temptation and the evil one in the Lord’s Prayer. Man is in bondage to sin and cannot extricate himself unless God in His power does it. The fact that the world is almost consumed by sin does not prove that God is not omnipotent, but rather shows His power to punish sin. We must learn that God punishes with “natural” calamities and moral evil. He is holy, good, loving, and omnipotent in doing so. However, He is loving, holy, and good according to the standard of His glory and not fallen man. His power is displayed in carrying out His perfectly just punishment for sin which is love for Himself.


Omnipotence: Evangelism

March 29, 2007

The power of God is fundamental to evangelism. It is a truth about God that is displayed in nature that enables us to tell people that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20). It is a truth of God that each person is upheld by God each moment (Heb 1:3) and that it is God who gives them their existence and breath each moment (Acts 17:24-28). It is because of the omnipotence of God that we are able to tell people that there is a final judgment and all will stand before Him (Acts 17:30-31). While those who believe that all of life consists in material things (that there is no spiritual realm) laugh, nevertheless we tell them that God has fixed a day and all will be brought into judgment. The power of God stands against those who think that He cannot raise all from the dead and bring them to judgment on the last day.

In evangelism we deal with people who are dead in sins and trespasses. These people are spiritually dead and no power on earth can raise them from the spiritual dead despite what many tell us about free will. It takes the power of God to raise a person from the spiritual dead and clothe that person with new life. Believers can have confidence in evangelism because God has the power to raise sinners from spiritual death. While the world thinks that the Gospel is a weak message for intellectually shallow people, it is actually the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). This is why no one should mess with the Gospel message. When we try to change it to make it attractive to the world, we simply have a different message and there is no power to it. No wonder they laugh.

In evangelism the Word of God must be preached rather than resorting to entertainment and programs designed to make people laugh or make a decision for something. We have the Word of God which is to be preached with power: “Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock” (Jeremiah 23:29). It is the Word of God that is powerful when preached in truth by the Spirit. It is not all the activities that people do that convince people of Christ; it is the power of God through the preached Word. “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Cor 2:4). “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). “In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:18). “For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (I Peter 1:23).

I have set out several verses to show that the Word of God must be preached in evangelism. Why is that? Clearly, at least from these texts, God’s power operates through the preached Word. This is why in biblical evangelism we are not to resort to many methods, games, and trying to talk people into things. We preach the Word of God and the Gospel that is in that Word. For in it alone there is power to save because it is the power of God. When we step away from the Word, we have stepped away from the channel which God’s power operates to save sinners. It is also the case that it is only when the Word is preached is the cross and Christ preached. Apart from the Word of God neither Christ nor the cross will be preached. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (I Cor 1:18). “But to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Cor 1:24).

Evangelism is an important task of each church. However, the goal of evangelism must not reside in numbers of people making professions and coming to the church building. It must be done to the glory of God and in a way where people are truly converted. This is only done when we go out and rely on the power of God for salvation rather than our wisdom and our methods. The Gospel is never stripped of its power in the ultimate sense, but in a practical sense we have no power in our wisdom and methods if we go out without the primary way being the Word of God preached and Christ and the cross set out. The Word of God is what convicts of sin and opens the hearts of unbelievers because the omnipotence of God is there to do so. When professing believers step away from the Word of God as the primary instrument in evangelism, they have stepped away from the wisdom and power of God and are using their own. The Word of God and the Gospel are the means of the power of God to save sinners. We show that we think they are weak and foolish when we don’t use them as God sets out for us to do.

Omnipotence: Worship

March 26, 2007

While it may be obvious as to the importance of the omnipotence of God for theology, it is not quite so obvious the importance of the omnipotence of God in terms of worship. But let us reflect on this for a moment. Worship is provoked in the heart by that which is worthy of worship. Worship is provoked from what the heart sees as truly valuable and as truly beautiful. Worship is usually reserved for the things that we love the most which means self is what is worshipped the most. God is viewed as being useful in terms of what He does for self and so we worship Him in order to obtain things. But of course that is not really worship of God, but is rather worship of self.

A passage in Luke points us to how this happens. “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11). The Pharisee was praying and used words as if his prayer was really toward God, but his heart was really all about himself. His prayer was much like what Jesus said about the prayers of the Pharisees in Matthew. “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men” (6:5). One can be sure that these men used the name of God along with sound theology, outward piety, and perhaps some pathos in the prayer. But the real desire in the prayer was so that others would see them and honor them.

Worship can be the same. People can sing words of praise and have no heart at all for God. People can want others around them to notice their voices or their outward acts that appear as praise. Worship is the worship of God and not just those things done with religious trappings while using the name of God. There must be something greater than the self to draw the heart out in the praise and worship of the living God. There must also be a power exerted in the soul that will open the eyes of the soul and draw in out of itself in praise and worship. Worship is an activity of God and not just something that man does. It takes a divine power to lift man out of the dung heaps and rubbish of the world and the things that glitter of self.

Worship should be thought of in terms of the soul’s adoring praise and worship in terms of the life that flows from a heart that adores and trusts in God. Who will worship that which it is terrified before and does not trust? True worship requires trust in God as well as love for God. Reverence, awe, and gratitude are given in Hebrews 12 as aspects of true worship or service. “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29). The omnipotence of God is displayed by itself in raw power or as seen through the other attributes as that which evokes awe and reverence. Our God is a consuming fire and this points to the power behind the fire that draws its energy from God and not from some fuel. The fierceness of that fire and the energy of that fire both draw on the omnipotence of God. The kingdom of God is one that cannot be shaken because of the power of God. Kingdoms are built on some source of power and do not just stand because they exist. The kingdom of God will not be shaken because the King is omnipotent and cannot be shaken.

All through Scripture we see that creation in one sense worships God and it should draw human beings to worship God. Whey does creation draw humans to worship? It is because it displays the attributes and glory of God. In particular, creation displays the glory of the power of God. We know that it is with great power that God has created the universe and holds it up each moment. We know that it was with great power that God caused the mountains to rise. So we are to join all creation in worship of the glory of God displayed.

We are to adore the God of the Gospel because in it we see the power and glory of God. The Gospel is the display of God and His power to save sinners from the devil, self, and sin. The Gospel is also the power of God to save sinners from His own wrath. The Gospel is the power of God to take sinners and make them worshippers of Himself rather than self and sin. It is through the Gospel that men are taken from being lovers of self and the world to be lovers of God and His glory. So the omnipotence of God should provoke awe in the possibilities of it, but also in what it has done in opening the eyes of sinners and in delivering them from the wrath of God into the arms of a loving Savior. We are to worship the God of all power.

Omnipotence: Relation to Other Attributes

March 24, 2007

Omnipotence is God’s infinity in reference to power.

Omnipotence is able to be expressed in each and every place because God is omnipresent, and not only that, the immensity of God teaches that He is fully present in all locations at the same time. So God is not just omnipotent in one location, but He is omnipotent in each and every location at the same time.

Omnipotence is related to omniscience in that it is in God’s power to know all things and to carry out whatever it is that He knows and desires. Nothing can keep Him from knowing all things at all times.

Omnipotence is itself beyond the comprehension of men and so is part of the incomprehensibility of God.

Omnipotence is related to the immutability (does not change) of God in various ways. Because God does not change, God is always omnipotent. On the other hand, it is because God is omnipotent that nothing apart from God can change Him. It is because God is omnipotent that nothing and nobody can change God from what He wants to be and yet He has the power to keep Himself from changing.

Omnipotence is seen in the realm of His providence in that God is able to provide all that He desires to provide. He provides for the animals and for humanity as well because it is in His power to do so. Every time an animal or human being eats or takes a drink, the power of the providence of God is on display. Every good thing that happens to an individual displays that power of God to provide for His creatures as He pleases.

Omnipotence is clearly seen in the simplicity of God (all attributes are really one). No matter what attribute of God that is set out in Scripture, the omnipotence of God can be seen in it and could not exist apart from it.

Omnipotence is seen in the Sovereignty of God. “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?'” (Dan 4:35). God does as He wills and wishes on the earth among those who live on it. No one can ward off the hand of His power or take Him to task. He is God and there is no that can stop what God is pleased to do. He does all that He is pleased to do (Psa 115:3).

Omnipotence is seen in the goodness of God in that God is able to show goodness as He pleases. No one can stop God from being good to those that He is pleased with. No one is able to stop God from showing goodness in saving sinners as He pleases. No one was able to stop God’s goodness from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when Nebuchadnezzar wanted to burn them. No one was able to stop God’s goodness when He wanted to save Daniel from the lions. No one was able to destroy His people when He desired to show goodness to them throughout the history of Israel.

Omnipotence is seen in the love of God. Since God is love, that is, He exists in love in the sense that He lives in the love that flows within the Trinity. All that hate God want Him to die but in order for God to die love must stop. Satan fights the love of God by blinding many minds to the Gospel (II Cor 4:4), but the love of God is powerful that He saves those He sets His love upon. This love of God is able to carry out its mission of love as God pleases.

Omnipotence is seen in the mercy and grace of God. God looks upon dead sinners and simply because of His mercy and grace He raises them from the spiritual dead at His good pleasure. No one other than God can limit God from showing mercy and grace as He pleases. In fact, Scripture tells us this about God: “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION” (Rom 9:15). This is not just about the electing choice of God, but also the power of God. He is able to have mercy and compassion according to His choice and His power to carry out His choice.

Omnipotence is seen in His wrath in that He is able to show wrath on those whom He pleases and to any degree that He is pleased with. He is able to show wrath on sinners themselves or to satisfy His wrath on Christ as He is pleased to do. God is perfectly free to do as He pleases because He has all power to do so or not to do so.

Omnipotence: Doctrine

March 22, 2007

The omnipotence of God within the realm of doctrine is (pun intended) powerful. The power of God is evident within the teaching and doctrines of Scripture if we have eyes to see. Throughout Scripture the omnipotence of God is put on display for all to admire and adore. We begin with creation. Here we see the power of God over the entire natural realm in creating it. Without trying to define creation as such, we know that it demonstrates power to call things into being. “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU” in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist” (Rom 4:17). Isaiah 66:2 also sets out this great truth. “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being, declares the LORD.” So the power of God over creation is seen in that God is able to call things into being.

This truth about God is such that is evident from what has been made: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20). So far the Scripture has set out that God is able to call things into being and that His eternal power is evident from creation. But the next step is to see that His power is seen in upholding creation each moment as well. “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). In one sense, the power of God is seen in and through all things from the fact that they are, that they are as they are, and the fact that they continue in existence. God’s power is seen in and through creation and the continued existence of created things.

All the miracles in Scripture show that God is able to do as He pleases over and in creation. He turned water into wine. He fed thousands with a few loaves and a few fish. He healed people of many afflictions and diseases. He raised the dead. All of these things demonstrated that Jesus Christ was Lord over all and that the kingdom of God was on earth, but they also demonstrated the power of God to do as He pleased. God parted the waters for Moses and the Israelites so that they could walk through on dry land. Instead of questioning Scripture on issues like this, we should worship the God who has power over what He has created.

We can admire the power of God through His work in salvation. While we don’t think of it in quite this way very much, the Gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16). “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. “”I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE”(I Cor 1:18-19). “But to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Cor 1:24). What can things like this mean? It means that the Gospel is the way that God demonstrates His power over the forces of evil in saving sinners. While men are impressed with lifting weights and other feats of strength, the Gospel is the most powerful display of God’s glory that we can presently see. It is through the cross that God has triumphed over rulers and authorities in the spiritual realm (Col 2:15). Ah, the power of God in the Gospel.

The new birth can also be looked at through the lens of power. Colossians 1:13 speaks of being transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of Beloved. That is real power. It is God yanking souls from the power of the devil to the power of His Son. 1 Thess 1:5 also speaks of the Gospel: “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” 1 Thess 2:13 says: ” that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” 1 Cor 2:4 speaks of preaching and power: “my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” 2 Cor 10:4 speaks of spiritual warfare: “for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” Taken together, we see the omnipotent power of God on display every time a person is born again. We see this power when the Word is preached and people hear because the power of God works in them. We see this power when people come to Christ by the power of the cross. We see this power when the Word of God works in human beings and we see it when people fight sin. While many sleep and many are dead, there is a war going on. The omnipotence of God is at work for those with eyes to see. For those who don’t see it, they are either uninstructed or just plain dead.

Omnipotence: The Conept & Meaning

March 20, 2007

The word “omnipotence” simply means that God is all-powerful with “omni” meaning “all” and “potence” meaning “power.” God has all power and can do everything that He pleases or desires. Anything that is possible to do God can do. Some think that it is a limitation to God’s power to say that God can do anything possible. It is not a limitation, but is defining what a real possibility is. Scripture tells us that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). What we must note is that the word “nothing” simply means “no thing.” There are intellectual conceptions that are not things. Another way to put that would be to say that a contradiction is not a thing so when we say that God cannot do a contradiction we are not saying that there is a thing that is impossible for Him to do. It is a contradiction for the same dog to be running and not running at the same time and at the same exact location. That means it is not a denial of the power of God to say that God can’t make a dog run and not run at the same time and at the same location. A contradiction is not a thing and so if God can’t do a contradiction (make both sides of the contradiction true at the same time) it is not a denial to say that He can do all things that are possible.

Another argument some would raise against the omnipotence of God is that the definition is that He can do all that He pleases or desires. Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18 teach that God cannot lie. Here, some would say, is proof that there are things that God cannot do. But is a lie a thing in and of itself? A lie is a contradiction of the truth and God is truth itself. A lie would be a contradiction of the character of God. To say that God cannot lie is simply to say that God cannot contradict His own being and holiness. It is also true that a lie is from weakness rather than power. So it is not a statement against God’s omnipotence to say that in all His power He cannot be weak.

People also raise silly little questions like the one where a question is asked. Is God able to make a rock that He cannot lift? If we say that He is not able to make a rock that He cannot lift, then we are saying that it is impossible for God to make a rock that He cannot lift. If we say that God can make a rock that He cannot lift, then we are saying that it is impossible for God to lift a specific rock. Either way, it is said, this shows that He cannot do something. However, involved in this little puzzle are a few problems. The first is that the question is within the framework of physical strength. God is a spiritual being and we are not to think of His activity solely in terms of physical strength. Second, this puzzle also involves a contradiction within the realm of God’s character. It is pitting His omnipotence against His wisdom, knowledge and omnipotence. It is something like asking if God can know enough so that He can’t know everything or that if He is powerful enough not to know everything. The answer to this question is that God cannot make a rock big enough that He cannot lift because He cannot contradict His own being. It is another way of saying that God’s supposed weakness should be able to overcome His power.

Still another answer to that would be to point out that God’s power is seen as His power over Himself and all that He created. To suppose that He could make a rock that He could not lift would be to say that God could create something that is beyond His power and bigger than Himself. That would entail God not being God at all since it would destroy His omnipotence. That is something like God using His eternal life to destroy His eternal life. Neither point shows anything against His character or power.

The meaning of God’s omnipotence, then, is that God can do all within the realm of logical possibility in that it must be a thing (not a contradiction which is not a thing) that is done and it must be something that a holy God (sin is a contradiction of His character) is willing to do. Psalm 115:3 tells us that “our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Anything that God desires or is pleased to do He does. Genesis 17:1 is how God presented Himself to Abraham: “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.” Hebrews 1:3, speaking of Christ, says that “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” We know that God created all things and that creation shows that He is the God who can do all things. We know that His upholding all things by the word of His power shows that He has full power of His creation. There is simply no-thing that God cannot do if it does not contradict His own nature and character. That is a true omnipotence and one that has the beauty of character and holiness with it as well.

Omnipresence: Meaning for Life

March 18, 2007

The truth that God is everywhere gives meaning to life in many ways. One way is that no matter where we go, we deal with our sovereign Maker. Nothing in life is totally meaningless because all that we do is in His presence. Nothing that we do is meaningless because all that we do is either for Him or against Him. Because God is fully present, everything that a person does is full of meaning. Everything a person does is out of love for God or is an act of hatred against Him and that in His presence. We could say that all that the unbeliever does is like committing a capital crime each moment since all done against God is worthy of death. We could also say that all that the believer does out of love for God is rewarded with more love for God. But both of those things can only be true if God is omnipresent.

The unbeliever is left to his or her own devices and has no real meaning in life. That is because they assume that there is no God in all the places that they are and so they are left to do as they see fit in their own strength. That means that any meaning that they find will be drawn out of the air with no substance to it at all. The unbeliever is left with nothing in this life and no hope for anything beyond. But the believer lives in the presence of God and has an ever present help in time of need. Whether the believer makes his bed in the grave or in the heavens, God is there. No matter what is happening to the believer, God is there. No matter what is going on in the believer or around the believer, God is there and He is in control. Whatever happens to the believer is not by accident, but by the sovereign permission and plan of the God who is always present. Nothing can happen to the believer that God does not allow because God is always there. This is also true of the unbeliever, but s/he does not recognize that and so lives as without God in the world.

While the unbeliever is left to his own ways and devices, the believer has the possibility of finding meaning in life in all things. No matter what the believer does and tries to the glory of God, He is there to be his or her strength in doing those things. The smallest things that are done for the glory of God are found to be from Him. The very smallest thing that a believer does out of love for God is full in its meaning. There is nothing that can happen to the believer that is a tragedy, yet the small things are full of meaning. All of that leans on the truth that God is present everywhere and is in all things.

Most people in the world, and even many professing believers, live in a world that they imagine is like Deism. Deism is the belief, generally speaking, that God made the world, set some natural laws up, and now just lets the world go along according to those laws and the free-will of the people. That is how even believers seem to think that things happen. While some think that God is present in some way, it is more like some being in the sky that is able to observe what is happening. But the Bible teaches that God is present in all places at all times. God is not just a casual observer watching all things happen from a good vantage point, He is present in all places and is aware and acting in those places. Because God is present and not just watching, this brings great meaning to the believer. The believer finds meaning in sharing the life of God in the world in being able to share in the love of God for Himself through Christ.

If God is not present in all places and at all times, then the love of God is more like some sort of objective feeling than it is of God Himself giving people a joy in Himself. If God the Father does not everywhere love God the Son through God the Holy Spirit, then His love is basically a nice thought but not a present reality. If His love within the Trinity is not present in all locations, then His love is not operational in life. If God is love, then if He is not omnipresent He is not love everywhere. But since God is everywhere and His love for Himself is present in all places, this brings a full meaning to life for believers since it means that love for God is available in all places and life is full of meaning when sharing in the love of God for God and other human beings.

Life is full of meaning because of the omnipresence of God in yet another way, though that is not something that all will enjoy. Life has meaning because there is no escape from God and there are no excuses for the way we are and the way we live. All that we do is known because He is fully present. We may try to make excuses and offer justifications for why we did certain things, but those will not work with God who is present in three Persons. All sin is witnessed by three Divine Persons and all the circumstances and reasons are weighed according to perfect reason and wisdom. But then again, so are all acts of love. It is simply beyond words to describe the meaning that the omniscience of God brings to life.

Omnipresence: Christ & the Gospel

March 16, 2007

The omnipresence of God does not seem to be a teaching (at least on the surface) that has much to do with the doctrine of Christ. However, let us remember that Jesus the Christ had a divine nature as well as a human one. In His human nature He lived in the presence of His divine one. This is simply a wonderful way to approach this. While Christ walked on earth, His human nature was joined with the divine one. He knew the thoughts of people and He had the power over nature as well. He could turn water into wine because God is fully present in the water to turn it as He willed. He could turn a few loaves of bread into enough to feed thousands because God is present in every location and operates as He wills. God does not have to bake loaves of bread and transport them to a particular location, He is able to do it as He desires because He is everywhere at the same time.

We tend to think of Christ praying to the Father as if the Father and His host were way up in the sky somewhere and then the Father zooming down or perhaps sending an angel to do what He wants. It is true that He does send angels to do His bidding as He desires, but He is everywhere present and can do as He wishes at any moment. He was already in the tomb with Lazarus and when Christ prayed to the Father His divine nature was one with the Father in the tomb and it was a simple matter of the present Father to do as He pleased and Lazarus rose from the dead. It is not hard to imagine Christ healing since the omnipresent God is always present at every location and can do as He pleases. How hard is it for the God who is present in and throughout an eye that He designed and created to energize Himself in a powerful and intelligent way so that the eye can see? The omniscience of God helps explain the miracles of Christ and of how Christ could heal people who were not even present with His humanity.

The omniscience of God also explains the promise of Christ in Matthew 28:18-20. After giving the Great Commission, He told them that “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The very promise of Christ is that He would be with all of His believers as they went out into the entire world with the Gospel. If Christ is not omnipresent in His divine nature, then Christ could not be with His people and would not be telling the truth.

The omnipresence of Christ is also necessary for Christ to live in His people. Christ is said to be the life of His people (Colossians 1:4) and to live in His people (Galatians 2:20). He is said to dwell in His people by faith (Ephesians 3:17). There is simply no way to explain how these verses and theological assertions could be true apart from the omnipresence of Christ. How could Christ live in believers who live in one part of the world at the same time as those that live in many other parts of the world? This could only be true if He is omnipresent. In other words, as we examine all that Christ did and claimed, He must be omnipresent or these things could not be true.

But does the Gospel rest upon the omnipresence of God? In many senses it does. We are to go forth and preach the Gospel to all because all are sinning in the presence of God. The first commandment teaches us that we are to have no other gods before Him which means in His presence. That commandment, then, to be applied to the entire world requires for God to be present. In the very nature of evangelism we rely upon the fact that God is present in all places in order to tell the Gospel. We rely on the fact that the Holy Spirit is present in all places and can energize His Word and use it as a sword in the heart or to apply it and regenerate a heart. Unless God is present in all places, we have no confidence that these things can be done.

So our very confidence in the Gospel is that God is present in all places. We have confidence in praying for the accomplishment of the Gospel because we believe that God is present in the hearts of people and can change those hearts. We believe that God can apply the propitiation of Christ to any heart in the world because He is there. We believe that God can impute the righteousness of Christ to any person in the world at any time because He is there. We believe that God can raise any soul in the world from the spiritual dead because He is there. We believe that at some point in the future that every soul will be raised from the dead from everywhere on the earth because God is there. We cannot believe in Christ as He presents Himself in the Bible apart from the truth of omniscience. We cannot but believe in the omnipresence of God if we believe that the Gospel is to go to all peoples of the world. There is no territorial god here and there, but instead there is only one glorious and all-present God. The teachings of Christ and the Gospel demand for these things to be true. So they are.

Omnipresence: Relation to Sin

March 13, 2007

The omnipresence of God as related to sin on the one hand is obvious, but not necessarily in all of the aspects. Clearly an omnipresent and triune God with perfect knowledge and wisdom does not need any other witnesses to establish any facts since all sin is committed in His presence. Each sin committed by each person is always in the presence of God. Each sin is practical atheism in that we would never do what we do if we really believed that we were in the presence of God. Each and every sin is directly against God because God is present with each sin. When people sin, they are denying the fact that God is present or that they think He will forget their sin. This is why people try to convince themselves that atheism is true. We don’t want to believe that all we do is in His presence. However, an atheist denies that there is a God and practical atheists deny by the way they live the truth about God. The omnipresence of God heightens the level of each sin into a form of practical atheism. It also shows that there is no such thing as a small sin in that all sin is directly against God and in His very presence.

While people think of God’s presence in more of a physical way, almost like Deism does, this is entirely inadequate. In fact, all thoughts and desires are in His presence as well. It is not that God is hovering above and around us and in that way we are in His presence, but He is everywhere inside us as well. Our thoughts and desires do not have to be transported to Him, but He is present in our minds and the core of our being as well at each moment. It is more accurate to say that in ever sub-atomic aspect of my being I am set out in all parts inwardly and outwardly in the presence of God. We cannot find a place, no matter how small, where God is not and there is no part or aspect of my being that is not immediately in His presence.

The omnipresence (immensity) of God means that every sin is against His whole being since all of God is present. With humans, we don’t think that a person that shoots another in the foot is as bad as one that shoots another in the head. With God, all of our sin is against Him in all of His being. It is not that I can sin against the holiness of God without sinning against His mercy and love. It is not that I can sin against one aspect of God since He is all present at all times. Every sin is against every attribute of God in some way since God is not only just present, but He is all present. This should cause us all to tremble.

Every sin is judged immediately in one way or another. Because each sin is directly in the presence of God, each sin is dealt with in some way immediately. Each sin is judged by a hardening of the heart or a withdrawing of the expressed presence of God. Believers know what it is to say or do something and then to immediately know that the expressed presence of God has withdrawn. God draws back from the person to teach them that He is to be desired more than anything else. With the unbeliever, however, that sin is judged immediately. There is no need to go through a judicial process or a transfer of information or anything else. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18). This text and its context indicate that the judgment of God is swift and sure. The omnipresence of God assures us that this is true.

Psalm 90 is quite clear in this regard. “For we have been consumed by Your anger And by Your wrath we have been dismayed. 8 You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence” (vv. 7-8). The anger of God was consuming them and His wrath dismayed them. Why is that? Clearly it was because even their secret sins were in His presence. Not only were their secret (they thought) sins in His presence, but they were being judged by God and apparently rather quickly. He did not wait for eternity to judge their sins. There are also several passages in the Old Testament where the outward judgment of God was carried out quickly. It can only be because the sins were in His presence and God carries out many of His judgments immediately. We can also think of the New Testament version of that in Acts 5 when Ananias and Sapphira were judged immediately by the Lord for lying. Both fell dead.

If human beings could only see the degree and intensity of the presence of God and what it means to sin in that presence, all outward sin would cease virtually immediately. Since the heart is in bondage to sin even the presence of God would not drive all sin from the thoughts and desires of the mind and heart, but people would strive to be more careful and to fight sin rather than just give in to every little thing. This truth of God should drive any comfort in sin away from our hearts. But men are born practical atheists and haters of God.

Omnipresence: Evangelism

March 6, 2007

God is utterly glorious in His omnipresence and immensity. He is present in all places and that with His full being. The application to evangelism should be seen immediately. Christians are not going out to their neighbors or the far places of the earth to people and places where they have to drag people to where God is. No, they go to people and places where God is fully present in terms of His being. We do not have to drag people to our nation or to our church for God to be there. It is true that there is a special manifested presence of God with His people and especially so when they are gathered in corporate worship, but God is present in all places in the universe and evangelism does not go where God is not.

The omnipresence of God teaches us that all people live in His presence. It is not just believers that live in His presence, though believers have the expressed glory of God dwelling and living in them, but all live in the presence of God and all that they think, desire, and do is each and every moment in His face and is either for or against Him. Each person will stand before God on judgment day and answer for how he or she has treated God while in His presence. Human courts need witnesses and evidence that acts as a witness in order to convict. In the court of God He will need no other evidence than Himself. All that the people we want to evangelize have done has been done in the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They need to be made aware that they are in His presence every moment and will answer for every moment before the all-present and holy God. The omnipresent God needs none but Himself to establish the facts of the guilt of every human being in the universe. He is God.

The believer must begin to view people with that understanding. It is not just that people are being bad when they do certain things, but their actions are in the presence of God and are against Him at each moment. This is one reason that moralism and ritualism are so wrong. Those teach that if a person behaves in a certain way or does certain religious rituals that things are okay. No, no and a thousand times no. Each and every thing that we think, desire, and do are against God if we don’t have Christ. A person can have very moral actions in the outward sense but be in full moral collapse because those things are not done out of love for God. A person may never commit physical adultery but may have a heart that lusts for hundreds of others every day. Even worse, that person may love many things (including him or herself) not for God and so be guilty of committing spiritual adultery against God moment by moment each day. We must view people with that understanding or we will have no idea the extent of their sin. Unbelievers are guilty of spiritual adultery against God every moment they exist in unbelief because they are in the grip of love for themselves and things rather than love God as the Greatest Commandment teaches that all should do. They do this in the presence of the One they are commanded to love with their whole being. So they walk around each day in the grasp of their adulterous lovers in the presence of a holy God. Who can retain a hold on self-righteousness once they see that?

The believer must begin to think of God with that understanding as well. If we love God above all, then we should desire that people would not sin against our great love. Sin is a hideous abuse of God and is in fact God-abuse. We abhor the actions of people that abuse children and women, but far worse are the actions of those same people as they abuse God. They abuse God by going after gods that are nothing in and of themselves. They go after things that they lust for and covet while hating the God who upholds them in their being and provides them with their food, breath and all things. With every sin they violate the law and commit cosmic treason against the Most High when they choose and love the things of the devil rather than God. With every sin they go against His continued mercy that calls them to repentance. The heart that loves God should be mourning when it sees these things and proclaim the glory of God to unbelievers. It is not just that evangelism is all about the good of people, but evangelism is also about telling people of the sovereign rights that God has over them.

In light of the fact that all people live in the presence of God and all their sin is against Him and known by Him, we are to evangelize all. It is also the case that the omnipresence of God is a necessary teaching if we go out to tell people that God may give them a new heart and save them. If He is not really there, then they have no one to save them. If He is not really there, they have no one to confess their sins to. If He is not really there, then how does Christ come to live in their hearts? The Great Commission is the promise of Christ that as the Church goes into the world He will be with them. The omnipresent God is necessary for the practice of biblical evangelism. Maybe that is why as the biblical view of God is being set aside biblical evangelism goes is also being set aside.