Resisting the Tendency to Join the God-Shrinkers
Isaiah 40:27, “ Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God’?”
The God-Shrinkers have been at work in Western Culture reducing God so that He is in accord with human reason and meets the demands of reason. They have streamlined God by cutting off His objectionable attributes and declaring that He must fit into the “I-like-to-think-of-God-as-being, etc.” The two attributes that they constantly declare as unacceptable are those that declare that the God of the Bible is Large and in Charge, i.e., His omnipotence and His sovereignty.
Ninety-three percent of Americans testify that they believe in God. During times of crisis we are told everything will be all right if we only believe. In whom do we believe? Is the God or gods we trust in the God of the Bible or are we like ancient Israel guilty of homemade worship of a man-made god?
God-shrinkers today have similarities to those the prophet addresses in Isaiah 40:27 who believe that God has lost their address. They believe that God would if He could, but since He doesn’t it because He cannot. They project an image of God as probably either too great to care or too busy running the universe or too powerless to do anything about your situation! They rename Him and by so doing believe that they have tamed Him.
1. Focus on the God who has Two Arms! — Isaiah 40:9-10 (a ruling arm and a carrying arm)
Of course when we, or Scripture, speaks of the arms of God, we are using anthropomorphic language. This long word simple means using human words to express the inexpressible truth of the God who as to His essential essence is Spirit. In other words, God has no arms or legs or eyes, etc.,but these human body parts represent power, mobility, omniscience, etc.
If we are to resist the tendency to join the God-shrinking crowd, we must learn to start in every situation and circumstance with God and not the problem; with the fact of God and not our feelings; with ultimate reality and not obvious difficulty. If we see a big God who is both large and in charge; a God who has a ruling arm and a carrying arm; a Sovereign’s hand and a Shepherd’s heart, then there are no big problems. If we start with the problem and try and reason back to God, “Where is He? Why did or didn’t He do this or that”?, then God will become our problem.
John Gill was so right when he said, “Omnipotence is essential to God. It is his nature. A weak Deity is an absurdity.”
Power is synonymous with God. To speak of God is to speak of power. To speak of power is to speak of God. God is omnipotent!
Puritan Thomas Watson put it like this: “Take away a King’s power and we un-king him. Take away God’s power and we un-God him. His power is equal to His will, what He wills He does – and praise Him, He has the power to do it! He says Himself in Isaiah 46: ‘I will do all my pleasure…I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it’.”
Rev 19:6, “Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” God’s sovereignty and his omnipotence must go together: God cannot be omnipotent unless He is sovereign, He can’t be all-powerful unless He is in all control – they go together, they cannot exist alone. As one person has said: ‘To reign, God must have power, and to reign sovereignly, He must have all power’.
This is what omnipotence means: ‘almighty’ – 56 times in our English Bible we find that phrase, ‘almighty’, and every single time it refers to God, for God alone is almighty. And God being almighty, it means that He possesses something that no one else can possess, no creature can be said to have absolute potency, they cannot be all-powerful for this Almighty God has an inconceivable plentitude of power. He overflows with power, He is all-powerful – and because He is all-powerful it means that He is equal and above every single power that there is in the universe.
Puritan Stephen Charnock notes, “The power of God is that ability and strength whereby he can bring to pass whatsoever he pleases…As holiness is the beauty of all God’s attributes, so power is that which gives life and action to all the perfections of the Divine nature. How vain would be the eternal counsels, if power did not step into execute them. Without power his mercy would be but feeble pity, his promises an empty sound, his threatenings a mere scarecrow. God’s power is like himself: infinite, eternal, incomprehensible. It can neither be checked, restrained, nor frustrated by the creature.”
John Piper gives three great truths concerning the omnipotence of God: “First, the omnipotence of God implies that he cannot be stopped from doing what he purposes to do. Daniel 4:35 says, “The Most High does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand.” If God purposes with all his heart to do a thing it simply cannot be stopped by any power in the universe.
“Second, the omnipotence of God implies that he does whatever he pleases. Psalm 115:3, says “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.” In Isaiah 46:9-10 God says, “I am God and there is none like me … saying ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’.” GOD ALMIGHTY is not like us. He can do whatever he pleases. Ultimately the only thing that determines what God will accomplish and what he won’t is his own will. This is what it means to be almighty or omnipotent.
“Third, the omnipotence of God implies that his power is superior to all other powers.”
Omnipotence means that God has the power to do all he wills as He wills with whomever or whatever He wills!
He has both the resources and the ability to work his will in every circumstance, in every person, and in every place in the universe. In three words, omnipotence means, “God is able.” He is able to do everything he needs to do or wants to do.
Here’s the premise of Isaiah 40: “What you behold you become like. What you ever-longingly look at, ever-lovingly long for, you will ever-lastingly become like!” Thus, if you view God as One who forgets your address, is impotent to solve your problems, who is either too big or too busy to care for little old you, or a God who would change things if he could or could change them if he would, then you will live in despair, depression, and defeat.
Two times the same question is posited to jolt us out of our wrong thinking about God: Isaiah 40:18,25: “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.”
Behold your God (Isaiah 40:9)!
Gaze upon Him from the Word of God with the eyes of faith and see that the God of the Bible, our God, is the God who is able, all-powerful, almighty, irresistible, invincible, unconquerable, over-powering, and over-whelming. He is the God who is Great and Good; Large and in Charge!
“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all.”
“Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
The omnipotence of God has much bearing on the life of faith. How?
First, there is the assurance that nothing is beyond the power and control of Almighty God. If it is a fact that “in God we trust,” then we need have no fear of anything else, for he “who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress’” (Ps. 91:1-2). For the believer God is a shield and an impregnable fortress that no other power in heaven or on earth can begin to overcome.
Second, no matter how weary or distraught we may become, God’s vast power is always available to those who look to Him. In the striking words of Isaiah, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength . . . they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength . . . they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29, 31). When we look to the Lord, what vast power is available to us!
Third, since believers have experienced the mighty power of God in the new birth, formerly “dead through our trespasses” but now “made . . . alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5), we can with great anticipation look daily to God for victory over the remnants of sin and the flesh in our life.
Fourth, the most extraordinary fact about believers is that Almighty God has taken up residence within them. Hence there is latent power impossible to fully comprehend or measure. Paul declares that “by the power at work within us (God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). The Christian (God help us to realize it!) is a dynamo of divine possibility.
Fifth, we can expect God to be powerfully at work not only in the ordinary events of daily life but also in the performing of mighty works. By the gift of His Holy Spirit to those who believe and receive it, there is entrance into the whole sphere of the mighty works of God. “Power from on high” (Luke 24:49) is available to every Christian: the power of Almighty God to bring people to salvation, to perform miracles of healing and deliverance, to destroy every force that comes against the work of God.
We may fittingly close this section on God’s omnipotence with the memorable prayer of David:
“Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11).
Thus we obtain fresh strength for each new length, attain new heights in lofty flights, maintain the pace throughout the race, sustain the load along the road.
The primary reason why so many Christians are in bondage to sin is because they are bored with God! Most are likely to come to church as a skeptic, asking HOW? rather than as a child of God that shouts WOW! More come as an auditor of truth than as a worshiper of the One who is the Truth. So what is voiced, at least by the expressions on people’s faces, is a “so what,” instead of the exclamation of OH, the wonder of it all, just to think that this great God loved and included me in His plan, and I can call Him my Father!
Is your life an OH Me or an OH HIM?
More in Pastor Wade's Blog
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