In her article “Historic Grab in Space” Marcia Dunn wrote:
Three spacewalking astronauts reached up with their gloved hands yesterday and caught a 4 1/2-ton, slowly spinning satellite in a risky, last-ditch attempt to save the craft.
“Houston, I think we got a satellite,” said shuttle commander Daniel Brandenstein from inside the Endeavor after the three astronauts, standing in a circle outside the craft, put their hands on the bottom of the satellite and held it steady….
The Endeavor had just passed to the southwest of Hawaii, 225 miles high and travelling at 17,500 miles per hour…. The three astronauts surrounded the satellite like three legs of a tripod. The operation required extraordinary delicacy; any jarring motion could have caused the fuel inside the satellite to start it rocking.
The shuttle was in a tail-to-Earth position, and the planet’s mottled blue globe turned slowly behind the astronauts as they captured the satellite (San Francisco Chronicle [Th. 14 May 1992], pp. 1, 5).
Certainly that was a historic grab in space. The ability to launch into space and catch by hand a satellite weighing much more than an elephant should amaze us all. But as astonishing as that is, it is insignificant compared to the ability of God.
God is omnipotent. He has the ability and power to do anything. Even the Hebrew name for God, El Shaddai, speaks of His power. El speaks of God, and Shaddai means “almighty.” His name refers to His awesome strength and might. Job said, “If it is a matter of power, behold, He is the strong one!” (
Isaiah said of God’s awesome power, “The nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust. Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless” (
When God exercises His power, He does so effortlessly. It is no more difficult for Him to create a universe than to make a butterfly. A. W. Tozer wrote:
“Since He has at His command all the power in the universe, the Lord God omnipotent can do anything as easily as anything else. All His acts are done without effort. He expends no energy that must be replenished. His self-sufficiency makes it unnecessary for Him to look outside of Himself for a renewal of strength. All the power required to do all that He wills to do lies in undiminished fullness in His own infinite being” (The Knowledge of The Holy [New York: Harper & Row, 1961], p. 73).
Stephen Charnock went on to explain:
“The omnipotence of God is His ability and strength to bring to pass whatsoever He pleases.
Our desires may be — and are — more extensive than our power, but with God, “His counsel shall stand, and He will do all His pleasure” (
Because God’s power is infinite, He “does not become weary or tired” (
People often question what God does, but they don’t understand that He can do anything He wants. The psalmist said, “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (
Although such power might seem frightful, remember that God is good. He can do anything according to His infinite ability, but will do only those things that are consistent with Himself. That’s why He can’t lie, tolerate sin, save impenitent sinners, or punish the innocent.
The Expression of God’s Power
God’s power expresses itself in an infinite number of ways. Let’s look at a few.
David praised our Creator God, saying, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host” (
What God creates He also sustains, maintains, and preserves. He “upholds all things by the word of His power” (
Can you imagine what would happen if God were to relinquish His sustaining power? We would cease to exist. Our lives depend on the constancy of the physical laws He has established.
If God were to stop maintaining the law of gravity, we wouldn’t be able to stay on the earth and would surely die. Or consider the sun. It has a surface temperature of twelve thousand degrees fahrenheit. If it were any closer to the earth, we’d burn; if it were any further, we’d freeze.
Furthermore, our globe is tilted on an exact angle of twenty-three degrees, which enables us to have four seasons. If it weren’t tilted, vapors from the ocean would move north and south, eventually piling up monstrous continents of ice. If our atmosphere suddenly thinned out, the meteors that now harmlessly burn up when they hit our atmosphere would constantly bombard us.
If the moon did not remain a specific distance from the earth, the ocean tide would completely inundate the land twice a day. If the ocean floor merely slipped a few feet deeper, the carbon dioxide and oxygen balance in the earth’s atmosphere would be completely upset, and no vegetable or animal life could exist on earth.
Things don’t happen in our universe by accident. God sustains it. He is the principle of cohesion. He is not some remote watchmaker who made the world, set it in motion, and hasn’t bothered it since. The reason the universe is a cosmos and not chaos — an ordered and reliable system instead of an erratic and unpredictable muddle — is because of the upholding power of God. Scientists who think they are discovering great truths are doing nothing more than discovering the sustaining laws that God uses to control the world. No scientist, mathematician, or astronomer could discover anything apart from the upholding power of God because He monitors and sustains the movements and developments of the entire universe. His governing of the entire universe manifests His unsearchable wisdom and boundless power. And He upholds it all by the word of His power.
A question often raised is, If God never gets tired preserving and maintaining the universe, why did He rest on the seventh day of creation? The answer is, God didn’t literally rest. He merely finished His work of creation. If He had rested, everything He had made on the first six days would have fallen apart. God doesn’t get tired, for He was just as active on the seventh day as He was on the other six — upholding everything He had made.
F. B. Meyer wrote:
“We go into the artist’s studio and find there unfinished pictures covering large canvases, and suggesting great designs, but which have been left, either because the genius was not competent to complete the work or because paralysis laid the hand low in death; but as we go into God’s great workshop we find nothing that bears the mark of haste or insufficiency of power to finish, and we are sure that the work which His grace has begun, the arm of His strength will complete” (The Epistle to the Philippians [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1952], p. 21).
That was the point Paul made when he said, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (
Jude ended his letter on that same note:
“To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever” (
Salvation isn’t like my experience playing football. I remember going into the locker room after a game and hearing the coach say, “Hey, you’re the reason we lost the game. Not only did you fumble the ball on the three-yard line, but you let the guy from the other team pick it up and run for a touchdown. It was your fault! Next time, hold onto the ball!”
No fault-finding will occur in heaven. The Lord will never say to any believer, “Do you realize that because of what you did, two hundred people didn’t get here?” Salvation means that the Lord picks you up and carries you from justification to glorification (
Redemption was an even greater display of God’s power than creation. There apparently was no opposition to creation, but in redemption the devil had to be subdued, death had to be conquered, and sin had to be dealt with. God then chose “the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (
In the Resurrection
God’s power is also manifested in His ability to raise the dead. Jesus said to His disciples, “After I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee” (
The Jewish people as a whole rejected the messianic claims of Christ. He was accused of being an insurrectionist, who was involved in revolutionary activities aimed at overthrowing the Roman government. The religious leaders brought Him before Pilate, the governor, claiming that He was a threat not only to Judaism but to the Roman political system as well.
Their political accusations against Christ were untrue; He did not set Himself against Rome. However, their religious accusations were true; Christ did claim to be the Messiah (
But Christ never equivocated His message, even in the face of imminent danger and death. He confessed openly His lordship, messianic identity, and sovereign authority. Why? Because He committed His life to the One who is able to raise the dead. And, indeed, He “was raised from the death through the glory of the Father” (
Christ was able to face the cross not only because of the Father’s power, but also because of His own. He Himself had the power to conquer death. Jesus said, “I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (
God has so much power that at the end of the age He will raise up from the dead every human being who has ever lived — both the righteous and unrighteous. “An hour is coming,” Jesus said, “in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His [God’s] voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds, to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (
The Greatness of God’s Power
Paul wrote, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know … what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe … in accordance with the working of the strength of His might” (
Many people misunderstand the meaning of heart in Scripture because our American culture often uses the term to refer to our emotions. Many of our love songs refer to the heart. But the term as used in Scripture refers to the thinking processes — the mind, will, and understanding (cf.
What are we to understand about God’s power? That it is the source of our spiritual power. In
Applying God’s Power
How does God’s power apply to our lives as believers? Let’s look at a few ways.
We are to worship God because of His power. God said to His people, “The Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, and to Him you shall bow yourselves down” (
God’s power is a source of confidence. Whenever you feel inadequate, remember Paul’s words: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (
God’s resurrection power is the basis of our hope. Paul’s testimony was this:
“To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake” (
Paul didn’t know God’s specific plan for his life, but he was confident in it, whether it meant life or death. He preferred the joy of being in Christ’s presence in heaven, but apparently he thought God would let him live because he knew the Philippians needed him.
Since Christ was Paul’s whole life, dying could only be a gain since it would usher him into the Lord’s presence. His confidence in the Lord’s ability to raise the dead helped him not be intimidated by suffering or death. He could devote himself fully to the Lord, not forsaking his spiritual duty to preserve his own life. The hope of the resurrection should help us have priorities that are eternal, not temporal as well.
The resurrection power of God was no mystery to Old Testament believers. Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is flayed, yet without my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another” (
Daniel also knew of God’s resurrection power, for an angel said to him, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (
Isaiah, who lived more than a century before Daniel, predicted that the dead would live again:
“Your dead will live;
Their corpses will rise.
You will lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy,
For your dew is as the dew of the dawn,
And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits” (
The Lord through Hosea, a contemporary of Isaiah, said:
“I will ransom them from the power of Sheol;
I will redeem them from death;
O Death, where are your thorns?
O Sheol, where is your sting?” (
“My heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One [Christ] to see the pit” (
Thinking of God’s resurrection power should likewise fill our hearts with joy, “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also” (
When you catch yourself worrying about something, realize there is nothing too great for God to Handle. God Himself says to you, “I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?” (
“Well may the saint trust such a God! He is worthy of implicit confidence. Nothing is too hard for Him. If God were stinted in might and had a limit to His strength we might well despair. But seeing that He is clothed with omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need too great for Him to supply, no passion too strong for Him to subdue; no temptation too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for Him to relieve” (The Attributes of God [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1975], p. 51).
Stephen Charnock adds this reassuring thought:
“As omnipotence is an ocean that cannot be fathomed, so the comforts from it are streams that cannot be exhausted. How comforting to know you have a God who can do what He pleases: there is nothing so difficult that He can’t accomplish, nothing so strong that He can’t overrule! You need not dread men since you have One to restrain them, nor fear devils since you have One to chain them. His power was not all expended in creation; it is not weakened by His preservation of all things. For whom would the Lord display His eternal arm and the incomprehensible thunder of His power but for His own?” (The Existence and Attributes of God).
God can handle any problem you have!
God’s power is the basis for our spiritual victory. Paul said to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (
What should be our response to God’s awesome, majestic, and glorious power? Humility. It’s easy to be proud if your thoughts are on yourself instead of God. That’s why we need to heed this admonition: “Humble yourselves … under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (
From God: Coming Face to Face with His Majesty by John F. MacArthur, Jr. Published by Victor Books, 1825 College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60787. (c) 1993 by John F. MacArthur, Jr. Used by permission.
In her article “Historic Grab in Space” Marcia Dunn wrote: