Posted by: biblestudyseattle | March 15, 2019

All Powerful

Is God all powerful, all knowing, all loving?  According to the Southern Baptist Convention:

In the Baptist Faith and Message (Article II.A.), Southern Baptists confess that God is all of these things: “all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise.” We believe these attributes properly describe the character of God, because that is how the inspired Bible presents Him. Unfortunately, some people have downplayed or denied one or more of these attributes of God. They have difficulty reconciling the Bible’s presentation of God with their own limited and uninspired observations.  (http://www.sbclife.net/article/1700/god-the-father-%E2%80%94-all-powerful-knowing-loving-and-wise)

This is based on Isaiah:  “Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.”  Isaiah 40:28-29

It doesn’t actually say God is all powerful.  It seems to say he is all knowing.  It’s silent on love.  While the creator of the whole earth is certainly extremely powerful, does that mean he controls everything?

This author thinks not.  If people and animals and angels have true free will, then by definition they aren’t controlled.  But God in his wisedom has put strict limits on our freedom.  I might will to jump over a tree, but gravity prevents me.  I might wish to do something diabolical, but God has the power to kill me.  “But the Lord considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the Lord took Onan’s life, too.”  Genesis 38:10

It is like parents and children.  When children are little, parents have to physical power to overpower the child if necessary.  This does not negate their free will, it just overwhelms it.  This answers to the question of evil.  God has allowed some evil into the universe, else true love is not truly free.  We might not like the arrangement, but Paul counsels:

“Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not!  For God said to Moses,

“I will show mercy to anyone I choose,
    and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”

So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.

For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”  So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.

Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?”

No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?”  When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?  In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction.  He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory.  And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.”  Romans 9:14-24


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