Christian theology in a Sudanese context. The essential nature and character of God.
The Omnipotence of God Which of the two following has the most power?
An electricity generating station like the new one, being built as I write, at Meroe, 400 km north of Khartoum on the Nile? The French company supplying the hydroelectric unit say it will be capable of generating 1,250 megawatts from its ten turbines. That is three times as much electricity as Sudan produces now. It is planned for the building to be finished and fully working sometime during 2008.
Or a spectacular lightning storm in the dark sky, releasing flashes of light caused by discharges of electricity between clouds, or between a cloud and the earth? My wife, Brenda, and I used to enjoy watching these from the garden of our home in Bahri, often when the power was cut! God’s power is beyond measuring. It is much greater than either of the examples above. Every hour of the day, every day of the week and every week of the year, God sustains life as we know it. ‘Omnipotence’ means ‘having very great or unlimited power’. It is right to stand in awe of God. The whole of creation and nature display His ability. From the huge starlit sky we see at night, to the smallest detail studied on a butterfly’s patterned wing, the world around us shows God’s power (Romans 1:20). From our home I regularly watched several papilio demodocus, the 4.5 inch (115mm) African lime butterflies with pale yellow patterns on very dark brown wings and two false red eyes on their back wings. (Locally they are called ‘Abu Dagiig’). As they enjoyed our flowering shrubs, I enjoyed watching them, and I often thought about God’s powerful care for His creation.
God spoke creation into existence. His word must be powerful too (Genesis 1:3,6, etc.; Hebrews 1:3). Scientists can achieve great things in our world because God’s keeping power can be trusted. Things God has made will always act the same way under the same circumstances. These ‘laws’ enable agricultural and medical development among other things.
God is able to bring His creation to make exceptions to His own rules: the sea held back by wind (Exodus 14:21,22), the sun standing still in the sky (Joshua 10:12-14), hungry lions kept from harming God’s man (Daniel 6:21,22). We call these ‘miracles’. They are also signs of God’s almost unbelievable power. The word ‘Almighty’ is used 56 times in Scripture, but it is never used of anyone except God (for examples: Genesis 17:1; Ruth 1:20,21; 1 Kings 18:15; 1 Chronicles 11:9). Even in difficult times, the people in the Bible proved God was able to keep every one of His promises. Important questions arise here: 1. If God is so powerful, why does Satan appear to be able to do so much? The Bible shows us that Satan only has the power to do what God gives him permission to do (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7). God does not destroy Satan, because Satan is working out a part of God’s plan in others (Luke 22:31,32; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 1 Peter 1:6,7). God’s will is the final cause of all things. He is the sovereign, independent, absolute, ruling Person in power.
2. Can God do anything? No He cannot! He cannot make a square circle! Everything God does makes good sense, while a square circle is a nonsense. God cannot commit suicide! Suicide would bring a change into God’s living being. Since God does not change, His suicide is not possible. God can do everything that His infinite and consistent nature logically allows Him to do. Nothing outside of God makes God do anything. God exercises His omnipotence by always putting His sovereign supremacy into practice. He will never contradict Himself. He will never do anything He chooses not to do. God is so secure, so powerful, and so much in control of everything, that He is able to allow people to choose for themselves which path they will take.The Bible shows Him saying: ‘If you do this, I will do that’,
(Genesis 2:16; Exodus 19:5; Joshua 24:14-27). Human responsibility is the product of divine sovereignty. Human responsibility adds to God’s sovereignty, it does not take away from it.
Thinking it through.
(a). Why does God do some good things and not others that we feel should be done –
when He is obviously able to do them all?
(b). Can God break His own rules?
(c). How should we respond when God seems to be doing nothing to help us?