I’ll never forget sitting in my Theology class at Dallas Theological Seminary studying Trinitarianism, when my professor said:
“What does it mean when we say God is omnipotent?
Usually the answer is, ‘God is omnipotent because he can do all things.’
This [definition] is problematic because there are some things God cannot do…
Omnipotence means God possesses all power.”
I sat there stunned for a moment. God possesses all power. For the next several days I couldn’t stop thinking about it: God possesses all power!
What I heard that morning was life changing. It made sense of the verses that refer to God giving authority to whomever He chooses (Daniel 2:21; John 19:11). It even changed the way I prayed. If God possesses all power, then there is no one else to turn to and there is nothing He doesn’t have the power to affect or change. Being omnipotent, however, doesn’t mean God can do all things. Omnipotence describes His “perfect ability to do all things that are consistent with [his] divine character.”
There are things God cannot do, and there are things He chooses not to do:
>He cannot sin (1 John 3:5).
>He cannot stop loving us (Romans 8:38-39).
>He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2).
>God cannot act in a way that is contrary to His nature (2 Timothy 2:13).
>He may choose to not do something because He chooses to do something else. In other words, He does what He pleases (Psalm 115:3).
The greatest demonstrations of God’s power are seen in three unique ways:
1)His ability to create. He is so powerful He creates with the spoken word, ex-nihilo—out of nothing (Genesis 1).
2) His ability to resurrect. He can bring life out of death, whether it is a dead womb or a dead person. He raised his Son Jesus from the dead (Luke 24:1-3), and one day will resurrect all who have died (John 5:28- 29).
3) His ability to humble the proud as well as exalt the humble (Job 40:6-12; Daniel 4:28-37; Matthew 23:12; James 4:6,10).
Job certainly learned this at the end of his struggle. He longed to argue his case face-to-face with God (Job 13:15). When God finally gave Job the audience he had been longing for, He questioned Job relentlessly—for 123 verses—pointing to His wisdom and power in all that He has created.
Job responds halfway through the interrogation saying, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth”(Job 40:4, ESV). God continues His questioning. Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.…I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.…I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6, ESV).
When coming face-to-face with God, the proper response is to humble ourselves. We, like Job, need to remember that God is not like us. We cannot understand Him in light of ourselves. He is holy; we are not. He knows everything; we do not. He is God; we are not.
He is just, righteous, loving, and wise. He knows all things, is present everywhere at all times, and possesses all power. He is all these things all the time. He never changes, nor does anything contrary to His nature. We must consider these things and bring them to mind when it seems God is not acting like God at all, or the way we think He should.
When I was expecting our second child, I received a phone call that my brother had been killed in a car wreck. I remember saying to myself, almost immediately, “God, you could have stopped that accident, but you didn’t. You must have a plan I don’t understand.”
Thirty years later, as my daughter lay in a hospital in Louisiana, dying, the question came to me: “Do you really believe what you have written in that paper back on your desk in Dallas?”
I was writing my final theology paper entitled, Toward a Biblical Theology of Evil. Deep in my heart I answered, “Yes, I do. I believe God is sovereign over all things, and loving.” And for days and days afterward I kept saying over and over, “I know you are here with me. I know you are here,” even though I didn’t feel His presence at all.
>Could God have saved my brother and my daughter? Yes, He could have; but He didn’t.
>Was I alone in the midst of my suffering and pain? No, I was not.
>Did my theology matter? It absolutely did.
A.W. Tozer, in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, says, “What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Our theology is something we study and systematically develop and then live out by faith, one day at a time. And God continues to reveal Himself to us on the journey. Slowly over time, in both of those situations, as I cried out to God, He revealed Himself to me in deeper ways. I began to see how powerful He was as He met me in the darkness of my deep grief. He showed me grace upon grace, and gave me strength to do things I could not imagine.
The God we worship possesses all power. He is powerful enough to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28), even when life has completely fallen apart. We study the Scriptures to discover who He is. We are to remember the things He has done in the past, for He alone is God and there is none like Him (Isaiah 46:9).
For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen (Romans 11:36, NLT).
 Doug Blount, “The Attributes of God,” lecture for ST102, (Dallas Theological Seminary, Spring 2010).