8/23/17

"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS" True Comfort (1:3-5) by Mark Copeland



                "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS"

                          True Comfort (1:3-5)

INTRODUCTION

1. Have you ever known people who despite tragedy were able to offer
   comfort to others?
   a. I know a woman who within two years lost her husband, her father,
      and her two sons
   b. Yet when I saw her at the funeral of the last one to die, I was
      impressed by the way...
      1) She graciously went around welcoming those who came to pay
         their respects
      2) She offered comfort to others, when you would think she would
         be the one needing it

2. On the other hand, some people are devastated by personal hardships...
   a. They find no peace, no consolation
   b. They certainly are in no position to help others

3. What is the difference?  Where do those who are able to comfort
   others while enduring their tragedy receive the strength to help
   others?
   a. The apostle Paul was one individual who had learned the secret
   b. And he passed it along to us in his second letter to the
      Corinthians

[It is in 2Co 1:3-5 where we learn about "True Comfort" (read).
Note first of all regarding...]

I. THE SOURCE OF "TRUE COMFORT"

   A. MANY SEEK FOR COMFORT "IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES"...
      1. Some in thinking their problems are no worse than those of
         others
      2. Some in thinking that things will improve
      3. Some in believing that it can't be helped
      4. Some in trying to forget
      5. Some in exciting and dissipating pleasures of the flesh
      6. Some in complaining and repining

   B. BUT TRUE COMFORT COMES FROM GOD...
      1. He is called the "God of all comfort" - 2Co 1:3
      2. Why Him?
         a. Because He is also the "Father of mercies" - cf. 2Co 1:3
            1) The term "father" implies "source"
            2) Thus He is the source of all kinds of goodness and mercy
               - cf. Jm 1:17
         b. Comfort is just one of His many mercies, and so He is
            described as:
            1) The "God of all comfort" - 2Co 1:3
            2) "The God of patience and comfort" - Ro 15:5
      3. As the God of ALL comfort, there is no limitation to the
         comfort He provides

[The source of "True Comfort", then, is God.  But when does it come,
and how...?]

II. THE BESTOWAL OF "TRUE COMFORT"

   A. IT IS BESTOWED "IN ALL OUR TRIBULATION"...
      1. God comforts us when it is most needed - 2Co 1:4
      2. As taught elsewhere, God does not desert us in time of need...
         a. "I will never leave you nor forsake you." - He 13:5b
         b. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to
            bear - 1Co 10:13
         c. Yes, even in "the valley of the shadow of death", He is
            there to comfort us - Ps 23:4
      3. Indeed, the greater the affliction, the greater the comfort!
         - 2Co 1:5
         a. As the sufferings abound...
         b. ...so does the consolation!

   B. IT IS BESTOWED "THROUGH CHRIST"...
      1. "...so our consolation also abounds through Christ" - 2Co 1:5
         a. Just as with all other spiritual blessings, it is found
            only "in Christ" - Ep 1:3
         b. To receive the comfort that comes from God, then, we must
            be "in Christ"!
      2. Being "in Christ", there are two avenues through which comfort
         is dispensed...
         a. The Word of God - cf. Ro 15:4
         b. Prayer - cf. Php 4:6-7

[Actually, there is a third avenue by which the "True Comfort" God
gives us in Christ is bestowed, but that will become apparent as we
consider...]

III. THE PURPOSE OF "TRUE COMFORT"

   A. TO COMFORT OTHERS...
      1. "...that we may be able to comfort those who are in any
         trouble" - 2Co 1:4
      2. The comfort God provides through Christ is not just for our
         private consumption
      3. "God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make
         us comforters." - John Henry Jowett (1817-1893)
      -- Yes, our comfort is designed to be shared!

   B. A CASE IN POINT...
      1. How God comforted Paul - 2Co 7:4-7,13
         a. The Corinthians comforted Titus in the way they received
            him
         b. So comforted by the Corinthians' reception, Titus' coming
            then comforted Paul
         c. Yet Paul saw that the source of this comfort was ultimately
            from God!
      2. This reveals another avenue by which God bestows His comfort
         a. It may come DIRECTLY from God (e.g., through His Word 
            - Ro 15:4)
         b. It may also come INDIRECTLY from God, through the
            exhortations of others - cf. 1Th 4:18
      3. Sadly, many people neglect all avenues through which God
         offers "true comfort"
         a. They do not feed upon the Word and pray, to receive comfort
            directly
         b. Nor do they develop the network of relationships with other
            Christians, through which God might comfort them indirectly
            when needed!
         -- But when all avenues are utilized, then "true comfort" is
            possible, and we can then pass it along!

[Finally, let's also notice...]

IV. A CONSEQUENCE OF "TRUE COMFORT"

   A. GRATITUDE, MINGLED WITH ADORATION...
      1. Paul began our text with these words:  "Blessed be the God and
         Father..." - 2Co 1:3
      2. It was the "true comfort" he had received that moved him to
         praise God

   B. SUCH PRAISE IS ONLY NATURAL...
      1. Not only because of the comfort we have received
      2. But also because of the comfort we can now pass along to
         others!

CONCLUSION

1. Are you lacking in this "true comfort"?
   a. Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places...
      1) It comes only from "the God of all comfort"
      2) And it comes only "through Christ"
      -- Are you in Christ? - cf. Ga 3:27
   b. Perhaps you are not benefiting from the comfort God gives
      others...
      1) There are those who would be happy to share their comfort with
         you
      2) But you must be willing to develop the relationships necessary
         for such comfort to travel from them to you!
      -- Are you working on your relationship with fellow Christians?
         - cf. Php 2:1-5

2. For those who are faithful Christians, having delighted in fullness
   of "true comfort", remember these exhortations...
   a. "Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you
      also are doing." - 1Th 5:11
   b. "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort
      the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all."
      - 1Th 5:14

Do these things, and we will all experience the "true comfort" by which
we will want to say:

   "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father
   of mercies and God of all comfort..."  (2 Cor 1:3)

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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A Prosecutor Looks at the Bible by Robert C. Veil, J.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=5357

A Prosecutor Looks at the Bible

by Robert C. Veil, J.D.


[EDITOR’S NOTE: A.P. auxiliary writer Robert Veil, Jr. formerly served as a district attorney for the Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office (Maryland), and previously maintained an active private law practice. He currently preaches in Martinsburg, West Virginia.]
The Bible is the most unusual and remarkable book we have ever encountered. It is unusual in that it claims to be the product of divine inspiration. And this book has had a remarkable influence, felt around the world for centuries. The book is morally good and pure, but upon examination we see that it is much more than a good book. Surviving countless attacks and criticisms, continuing as the world’s best seller, the Bible has been examined and cross-examined far more than any other book ever written.
As a prosecutor, I was required to examine cases with a critical eye, preparing them for presentation to a jury. All cases had their strengths and weaknesses. They had to be examined carefully and a decision had to be made concerning their prosecution. It had to be decided whether each case had merit, and whether there was a reasonable likelihood of success in proving it to a jury if necessary. If the case lacked merit, it was not proper to proceed. And this decision had to be made based upon the strength of the evidence, not upon personal preferences, political considerations, or even the level of certainty or commitment of the police officer who initiated the charges.
When I look at the Bible, I see a strong case for its inspiration. The evidence is not only compelling, it is overwhelming. The fact that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, as opposed to merely a work of man, can be established in several ways. It can be established from a philosophical standpoint inasmuch as the derivation of truth and knowledge from God Himself is consistent with an inspired revelation of His will. It can be established from a logical or rational series of arguments, or an historical study, or a survey of nature itself—which reveals God as well. But as a prosecutor, I am also impressed with the evidence of inspiration within the Bible itself. When I look at the Bible carefully, I notice several things which strongly argue for its inspiration by God:
1. When I examine the Bible, I see that the Bible claims to be inspired by God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The literal meaning of the Greek word translated “inspiration of God” is breathed out by God or God-breathed. This claim is unique and sets the Bible apart from the vast body of world literature. Except for a few later imitations, other books basically account for their own origin through purely natural means. But throughout the Bible, it claims to be from God.
I recognize that critics will object that the Bible’s own claim of inspiration cannot be considered on the ground that “you can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible.” But such an objection would be overruled, for it ignores standard and accepted practice in other proceedings. We routinely allow the accused in criminal cases to speak for himself, although in this country he is not required to do so. Even in civil cases, where the burden of proof is much lower, we allow the defendant to speak in his own behalf when his character is called into question. If the Bible is to be accorded a fair trial, its own claims of inspiration must be carefully considered along with all other evidence.
The Bible claims its own inspiration forthrightly. It makes no apology, and shows no hesitation in stating that it and its central figure, Jesus Christ, are from God. “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death…. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:22-23,32). So as a starting point, we note that the Bible claims to be of divine origin.
Sometimes people will deny that the Bible is from God, arguing that it is merely a “good book.” I recall one of my early school teachers telling the class that the Bible was written by “a good man” long ago. On the contrary, if the Bible is not truly the product of divine inspiration, it is not good, and it was not written by good people, because they steadfastly contended that it is. They would be more accurately described as deceivers or liars, because their amazing claims were false. It is also noteworthy that even the most radical Bible scholars do not argue that the book was composed by a single author.  Although there is considerable debate about specifically when and by whom some of the various books of the Bible were written, it is universally admitted to be the product of a number of writers over many years, a point to be developed further below.
2. When I examine the Bible, I observe that, the critics’ claims notwithstanding, the Bible is amazingly consistent with itself. There is a grand procession throughout. This fact is actually very compelling when it is recognized that the Bible consists of 66 separate books written by approximately 40 different writers with varying and diverse backgrounds. These writers included fishermen, a tent maker, a tax collector, a shepherd, kings, prophets, historians, social activists, statesmen, etc. Most of these writers never knew each other personally, making collusion in the composition of the Bible impossible.  They could not “get their story straight” before writing. Further, each of the books were originally written in one of three different languages, from three different continents around the world. It was written over a period of approximately 1,600 years, yet consistently develops one main story—a central theme, without contradiction or inconsistency.
The development of a grand theme, with contributions made thereto in the earliest books of the Bible, gradually unfolded, and completed throughout the latter books, is an amazing accomplishment, and unexplainable without divine intervention. For example, in the earliest books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, the writer introduces the concept of the Passover lamb, with its many similarities to Jesus Christ. The male lamb was to be spotless and without blemish, a perfect specimen. It was to be killed by the shedding of blood, and the blood was to be applied to the dwelling houses of those to be saved from the final plague (Exodus 11ff.). The Passover feast itself contained remarkable similarities to the Lord’s Supper, though instituted hundreds of years earlier. These attributes are interwoven with the manner in which the lamb was to be killed, the actual shedding of blood, and the application of it to the houses of a selected people. How could these characteristics have been devised without a knowledge of what was to come? That is, how could the invention and detailed description of the Passover appurtenanceshave been accomplished by someone completely unaware of how these details would later align with the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world?
Bible students call this phenomenon “typology.” It involves the pre-figuring of places, things, and events by Old Testament “shadows,” which look forward to and foretell future fulfillment. The Old Testament “types” are sometimes extremely detailed, and they have astonishingly appropriate applications in the New Testament “antitypes.”  From an evidentiary standpoint, they are unexplainable without divine guidance of the Bible writers. No human author, without assistance, could have foreseen the application and fulfillment of the detailed types they described. The operation of random chance can no more explain this occurrence than the dropping of the pieces of a complex jigsaw puzzle from its box onto a table could yield the completed result. The finished picture becomes visible upon examination of the various New Testament writings. Added to this is the fact that these New Testament writers had no control over the work of the Old Testament writers who foretold these matters. How is this explainable absent divine intervention?
3. When I examine the Bible I see objectivity. Although perhaps not totally inconceivable, this is surprising if the writing of the book was not superintended by God.  The Bible relates both the good and the bad concerning its heroes. That is not typical of human works, although it can sometimes be accomplished with concerted, strained effort. But given the multiplicity of Bible writers, it would be difficult to explain how all of them succeeded in such objectivity.
The Bible often includes information which seems, at first, to argue against its point. It includes “challenging” passages, which might have been easily omitted. For example, in Job 2:3 the Bible quotes God as saying to Satan, “And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” It is not surprising that Bible critics have seized upon this passage in an effort to disparage the God of the Bible, and to deny its inspiration. They claim the verse teaches that God personally set Job up for failure. Indeed, the verse on the surface seems to say this, and it is only upon deeper study of the verse with its immediate and more remote context that the true meaning appears. But why was the verse included in the first place? It would have been easy, had the work been of mere human origin, to avoid this and other difficult statements. Had we, in our limited wisdom, been composing the Bible in an effort to palm it off as the work of God, would we have included such statements? The fact that these difficult passages appear in the text is strong evidence that it was not written by humans unconstrained by a higher influence. There is an over-arching hand which gives to the text a higher meaning, understandable only upon a reading of the work as a whole. The ancient Bible writers, who were not always privy to these other, clarifying passages, would not have written this way, but for the control of inspiration. In other words, since most of the Bible writers did not have access to the other portions of the Bible as they wrote, it is not likely that they would have inserted statements understandable only upon comparison with those other portions. If they were writing with only their own uninspired wisdom, they would have omitted such passages altogether.
Further, it is a mark of authenticity to include negative or undesirable traits about the people held out as heroes. It is not typical for human witnesses to volunteer weaknesses or undesirable concessions about themselves in their own case. If the Bible writers were liars trying to convince us to follow them, it is inconceivable that they would contradict that aim by making themselves look bad. Most people want to bolster their position, and we generally tend to minimize or omit information which detracts from our message or makes us look bad. But the Bible does not do this. It delivers both the positive and the negative, the good and the bad about the characters used to tell its story. Peter, for example, is presented as the strong right hand of the Lord Himself, a pillar in the early church. Yet, in other passages he is presented with the most embarrassing of human foibles. We are given his impetuous nature, his lack of faith or conviction, his racial bias, and even his denial of Jesus Christ. David, an undisputed hero of God and his people throughout the history of Israel, and a forefather to Jesus Himself, is described as indulging in the most humiliating of sins, including sexual perversity and murder. Would these salacious facts be included had the writing of the book not been superintended by God?
4. Upon examination of the Bible, I notice what J.W. McGarvey called the “restraint” of inspiration.[1] There are many examples; it is a fascinating characteristic of the Bible and unexplainable if it is the work of mere man. Essentially, we have people and momentous events, of great interest to our human curiosity, disposed of in brief sentences leaving us longing for more. This, too, is unlike the work of uninspired men, who tend to run on and on about matters in which they have a great interest. One would think, for example, that the biblical character of Samson, whose exploits have been of keen and thrilling interest to millions, would have been accorded more than three chapters (Judges 14-16). Or, to use McGarvey’s example, the death of James, one of the apostles, would have been described in great detail, instead of only 11 words (Acts 12:2).
How are we to account for this circumstance? The matters which seem less interesting, and yet in the grand scheme of the book as a whole have greater significance, are given more attention. Whereas the matters which appeal to our human curiosity, but in reality have minor import in the overall story, are passed over quickly. Does this not show the guiding force of a superior wisdom in the composition of the entire Bible?
Those new to Bible study are often confounded by the insertion of genealogical records. The names are sometimes difficult to pronounce, and one at first wonders why they are included at all. The Bible contains about 24 genealogical lists, strategically distributed throughout its pages. Many of them include supplemental historical information in addition to the names themselves. Taken together, they amount to a progression of generations leading to the Messiah. Further, they place Him into a human history or framework. Surely, the original writers could not have foreseen the significance of these records. It is only upon closure of the final pages of the New Testament that their significance begins to dawn upon us. Their evidentiary value in connecting the Messiah to human events is meticulously established. No other person in all of human history is so carefully documented from a genealogical perspective. And while the individual writers of the Bible may not have seen the importance of including such laborious and tedious details, the God who inspired the overall work obviously did.
5. Upon examination of the Bible, I see that it is uncanny in its accuracy. Like the old anvil which withstands the blows of countless hammers, it proves to be correct time and time again. I recently watched as a nationally known atheist and Bible critic debated the existence of God. Although referring to the many embarrassing errors within the Bible, he produced none. I suspect he knew that such alleged “errors” have been put forth time and time again, only to be capably answered upon closer examination. No other book has been subjected to such treatment and withstood such attacks.
6. I see in the Bible the most enduring of books. It has long outsold all others, and has been treasured and preserved through the centuries as a priceless work of wisdom and guidance. Countless generations have largely ordered their lives from its principles. It has been translated and proclaimed at great personal risk. Men have given their lives in its proclamation. Even in our own country, the Bible provides support for our founding principles, continues to be revered by many, and is made readily available upon demand.  In our transient and disposable culture, this is no small feat.
What do I see when I examine the Bible? I see a book that I would not hesitate to take before any reasonable trier of fact. I would be willing to submit it in a fair comparison against all others. I would not shrink from relying upon it. I am confident in its power and dependability. I see the marks of inspiration upon it and the hand of God within it. I see consistency, objectivity, restraint, accuracy, and endurance. In short, I see the inspired Word of God.

REFERENCE

1 John W. McGarvey (1892), New Commentary on Acts of the Apostles, (Cincinnati:  Standard), pp. 232-233.

Clearing-Up "Contradictions" about Jehovah in Genesis by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=4497


Clearing-Up "Contradictions" about Jehovah in Genesis

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The infinite attributes and actions of God are no small matter to consider. In truth, man could never meditate on anything greater. We marvel, as did the apostle Paul, at “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33). We are awestruck by His eternality. We tremble at the thought of His omnipotence. We humbly bow before Him Who knows our every thought. As David recognized, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6). Experientially speaking, as finite beings, we will never be able to fully grasp the wonders of God. As Jehovah Himself said, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways…. For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Yet, how thankful we are that God chose to reveal certain things to us about Himself (cf. Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16), which, as much as is humanly possible, we can come to know. He is love (1 John 4:8). He is logical (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is just (Acts 10:34-35). He is worthy of all praise, honor, and obedience (Psalm 18:3; Matthew 10:34-39). He is everything that His inspired Word reveals that He is.
Oftentimes, however, passages of Scripture are cited by Bible critics as “proof” of the Book’s errancy and of the contradictory portrait that the inspired writers allegedly painted of God. In his 2009 debate with Kyle Butt on the existence of God, atheist Dan Barker spent nearly two-thirds of his opening 15-minute speech listing 14 alleged “inconsistencies” among Bible verses that allude to various characteristics and actions of God. Four of those 14 “contradictions” were from the book of Genesis (Butt and Barker, 2009). Dennis McKinsey, in his book titled Biblical Errancy, spent 44 pages listing numerous charges against God and the Bible’s statements about Him. Sixteen of those 44 pages referred a total of 37 times to alleged problematic passages in the book of Genesis (McKinsey, 2000, pp. 133-177). On his Web site attempting to expose the Bible and the God of the Bible as frauds, R. Paul Buchman listed 83 “contradictions” involving “God’s Nature” and 142 about “God’s Laws” (2011). Fifty-one times he referred to Genesis.
Legion are those who claim that the Bible paints an inexplicable, paradoxical portrait of God. When the Scriptures are honestly and carefully examined, however, all such criticisms of the Creator and His Word are shown to be either mere misunderstandings or artificially contrived contradictions. Consider some of the most frequently cited allegations against Jehovah in Genesis.

DOES JEHOVAH REALLY KNOW EVERYTHING?

Numerous passages of Scripture clearly teach that God is omniscient. The Bible declares that the Lord “knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21), that His eyes “are in every place” (Proverbs 15:3), and that “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). Of Jehovah, the psalmist also wrote:
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether…. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there (139:1-4,6-8).
The New Testament reemphasizes this truth, saying, “God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20, emp. added). “[T]here is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). Not only does He know the past and the present, but the future as well (Acts 15:18; cf. Isaiah 46:10). There is nothing outside of the awareness of God.
If God knows (and sees) everything, some have questioned why certain statements exist in Scripture that seem to indicate otherwise. Why was it that God questioned Cain regarding the whereabouts of his brother Abel if He already knew where he was (Genesis 4:6)? Why did the Lord and two of His angels ask Abraham about the location of his wife if He is omniscient (Genesis 18:9)? And, if God knows all and sees all, why did He say to Abraham concerning Sodom and Gomorrah: “I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know” (Genesis 18:21, emp. added; cf. Genesis 22:12)? If God is omniscient, why would He need to “go” somewhere to “see whether” people were wicked or not? Does God really know everything?
First, when critics claim that the questions God asked Cain or Sarah (or Satan—cf. Job 1:7; 2:2) suggest that God’s knowledge is limited, they are assuming that all questions are asked solely for the purpose of obtaining information. Common sense should tell us, however, that questions often are asked for other reasons. Are we to assume that God was ignorant of Adam’s whereabouts when He asked him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). At the beginning of God’s first speech to Job, God asked the patriarch, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth?” (38:4). Are we to believe that God did not know where Job was when He created the world? Certainly not! What father, having seen his son dent a car door, has not asked him, “Who did that?” Obviously, the father did not ask the question to obtain information, but rather to see if the son would admit to something the father knew all along. When a dog owner, who comes home from work and sees the arm of his couch chewed to pieces, points to the couch and asks his puppy, “Did you do that?” are we to think that the owner really is asking the question for his own benefit?
On occasion, Jesus used questions for the same purpose. When He questioned the Pharisees’ disciples and the Herodians regarding whose inscription was on a particular coin, it clearly was not because He did not know (Matthew 22:15-22). Likewise, when Jesus asked the multitude that thronged Him, “Who touched Me?” (Luke 8:45), it was not because the woman who touched Him was hidden from Him (Luke 8:47). Jesus knew the woman was made well by touching His garment before she ever confessed to touching Him (Mark 5:32). Thus, His question was intended to bring attention to her great faith and His great power (Mark 5:34). Truly, in no way are the questions God asks mankind an indication of His being less than divine.
What about Jehovah’s statement to Abraham recorded in Genesis 18:21? Did He not know the state of Sodom and Gomorrah prior to His messengers’ visit (Genesis 18:22; 19:1-29)? Did He have to “learn” whether the inhabitants of these two cities were as evil as some had said? Certainly not. Moses and the other Bible writer’s usage of phrases such as “I will know” (Genesis 18:21) or “now I know” (Genesis 22:12) in reference to God, actually are for the benefit of man. Throughout the Bible, human actions (such as learning) frequently are attributed to God for the purpose of helping finite beings better understand Him. This kind of accommodative language is called anthropomorphic (meaning “man form”). When Jehovah “came down to see the city and the tower” built at Babel (Genesis 11:5), it was not for the purpose of gaining knowledge. Anthropomorphic expressions such as these are not meant to suggest that God is not fully aware of everything. Rather, as in the case of Babel, such wording was used to show that He was “officially and judicially taking the situation under direct observation and consideration, it having become so flagrant that there was danger (as in the days of Noah) that the truth of God’s revelation might be completely obliterated if it were allowed to continue” (Morris, 1976, p. 272). Almighty God visited Sodom and Gomorrah likely “for appearance’ sake, that men might know directly that God had actually seen the full situation before He acted in judgment” (Morris, p. 342). As Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown noted in their commentary on Genesis: “These cities were to be made ensamples to all future ages of God’s severity, and therefore ample proof given that the judgment was neither rash nor excessive (Ezek 18:23; Jer 18:7)” (1997).
Similar to how God instructs man to pray and make “known” to Him our petitions for our benefit (Philippians 4:6), even though He actually already knows our prayers and needs before they are voiced (Matthew 6:8), for our profit the all-knowing God sometimes is spoken of in accommodative language as acquiring knowledge.

WAS GOD'S NAME "JEHOVAH" MADE KNOWN TO THE PATRIARCHS?

Skeptics not only criticize the Bible’s teaching about God’s knowledge; they are also critical of what Scripture says man has known (via revelation from God) in the past. You would find it odd if someone you had known very well for years said, “you did not know him.” You might think this friend had become a liar or a lunatic if he indicated that you were not aware of his name, even though you had known his first and last name for many years. Skeptics claim we should be equally bothered by what the Bible says, because it indicates that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not know God by His name, Jehovah, even though the book of Genesis indicates that they did.
After Moses first visited Pharaoh regarding the release of the Israelites from bondage, God assured Moses that the Israelites would be liberated. He then added: “I am Jehovah: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah I was not known to them” (Exodus 6:2-3, emp. added; NOTE: All Scripture citations in this section are taken from the American Standard Version). The difficulty that Bible students have with this statement is that the name “Jehovah” (Hebrew Yahweh; translated LORD in most modern versions) appears approximately 160 times in the book of Genesis. Furthermore, “Jehovah” is used between Genesis chapters 12-50 (which deal mainly with the families of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) more than 100 times.
After God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice (instead of his son, Isaac) on Mount Moriah, Genesis 22:14 says, “Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh. As it is said to this day, in the mount of Jehovah it shall be provided” (emp. added). Years later, Isaac asked his son Jacob (who was deceiving his father in hopes of receiving a blessing), “How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, because Jehovah thy God sent me good speed” (Genesis 27:20, emp. added). How could God tell Moses that “by my name Jehovah I was not known to them” (Exodus 6:3), if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were well aware of the name Jehovah, and even used it in their conversations? Is God a liar? Does the Bible contradict itself on this point? What reasonable answer can be given?
There is no denying the fact that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were aware of God’s name, Jehovah (Yahweh) [cf. Genesis 15:7; 22:14,24-35,40,42,48,56; 24:50,51; 26:22; 27:20; 49:18; etc.]. As John J. Davis wrote: “[I]n the book of Genesis…the name of Yahweh is introduced in a way which utterly precludes the supposition that it is used proleptically, or that it is anything but a correct account of the incident and the actual term employed” (Davis, 1963, 4[1]:34). Based upon the number of times the word (Yahweh) appears in Genesis, and the various ways in which it was used, including being a part of compound names that have specific meanings (e.g., Jehovah-jireh, meaning “Jehovah will provide”), it is unwise to argue that the patriarchs in Genesis were unaware of the name Jehovah. So what is the answer to this alleged problem?
Although Bible critics and unbelievers may scoff at any attempt to explain Moses’ statement, which they believe is irresolvable, the fact is, a logical explanation exists. The expressions “to know the name of Jehovah” or simply “to know Jehovah” frequently mean more than a mere awareness of His name and existence. Rather, “to know” (from the Hebrew word yada) often means to learn by experience. When Samuel was a boy, the Bible reveals that he “ministered before/unto Jehovah” (1 Samuel 2:18; 3:1), and “increased in favor both with Jehovah, and also with men” (2:26). Later, however, we learn that “Samuel did not yet know Jehovah, neither was the word of Jehovah yet revealed unto him” (1 Samuel 3:7, emp. added). In one sense, Samuel “knew” Jehovah early on, but beginning in 1 Samuel 3:7 his relationship with God changed. From this point forward he began receiving direct revelations from God (cf. 1 Samuel 3:11-14; 8:7-10,22; 9:15-17; 16:1-3; etc.). Comparing this new relationship with God to his previous relationship and knowledge of Him, the author of 1 Samuel could reasonably say that beforehand “Samuel did not yet know Jehovah” (3:7).
According to Gleason Archer, the phrase “to know that I am Jehovah” (or “to know the name of Jehovah”) appears in the Old Testament at least 26 times, and “in every instance it signifies to learn by actual experience that God is Yahweh” (1982, pp. 66-67). In the book of Exodus alone, the expression “to know” (yada) appears five times in relation to Jehovah, and “[i]n every case it suggests an experiential knowledge of both the person and power of Yahweh. In every case the knowledge of Yahweh is connected with some deed or act of Yahweh which in some way reveals both His person and power” (Davis, 4[1]:39). For example, in one of the passages that has drawn so much criticism, God stated: “I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God, who bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:7, emp. added). Later, after God already had sent ten plagues upon the Egyptians (Exodus 7:14-12:30), parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14), and miraculously made bitter water sweet (Exodus 15:22-25), He said to Moses, “I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God”(Exodus 16:11-12, emp. added). After several more weeks, God said to Moses on Mount Sinai: “And they shall know that I am Jehovah their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them: I am Jehovah their God” (Exodus 29:46, emp. added). Did the Israelites not know Who Jehovah was by this time? Without question, they did. “They had already learned of Him as deliverer; now they would know Him as their provider” (Davis, 4[1]:39).
Notice also what Isaiah prophesied centuries after the time of Moses.
Now therefore, what do I here, saith Jehovah, seeing that my people is taken away for nought? They that rule over them do howl, saith Jehovah, and my name continually all the day is blasphemed. Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore (they shall know) in that day that I am he that doth speak; behold, it is I (Isaiah 52:5-6, emp. added).
More than 100 years later, following Judah’s entrance into Babylonian captivity, God foretold of their return to Judea and spoke to them through the prophet Jeremiah. He said: “Therefore, behold, I will cause them to know, this once will I cause them to know my hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is Jehovah” (Jeremiah 16:21, emp. added). Are we to gather from these statements that Israel and Judah were not aware of God’s name (Jehovah) before this time in their history? Certainly not. Obviously, something else is meant by the expression “to know (or not know) the name of Jehovah.” In truth, it is a Hebrew idiom that “generally signifies knowledge of some particular act or attribute of Yahweh as it is revealed in His dealing with men” (Davis, 4[1]:40; see also Bullinger, 1898, p. 554).
Even in modern times it is possible for someone to know a person’s name or office without really“knowing” the person (or understanding his/her office). Imagine a group of foreigners who had never heard of Michael “Air” Jordan before meeting him at a particular convention a few years after his retirement from the NBA. They might come to know his name in one sense, but it could also be said that by his name “Air Jordan” they really did not know him. Only after going to a gym and watching him dunk a basketball by jumping (or “flying” in the air) from the free throw line, and seeing him in his original “Air Jordan” shoes, would the group begin to understand the name “Air Jordan.”
Admittedly, at first glance, the many references to “Jehovah” in the book of Genesis may seem to contradict Exodus 6:3. However, when one realizes that the Hebrew idiom “to know” (and specifically “to know” a name) frequently means more than a mere awareness of a person, then the difficulty disappears. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew God as Creator and sovereign Ruler of the Universe. But it would not be until centuries later, when God fulfilled the promises made to these patriarchs by delivering the nation of Israel from Egyptian bondage, that the full import of the name Jehovah would become known.

DID GOD TEMPT ABRAHAM?

One of the most criticized passages throughout the centuries in the book of Genesis has been chapter 22. In recent years, relentless Bible critic Dan Barker has alleged that he “knows” the God of the Bible cannot exist because “there are mutually incompatible properties/characteristics of the God that’s in this book [the Bible—EL] that rule out the possibility of His existence.” One of the scriptures that Barker frequently cites as proof of the Bible’s alleged inconsistent portrait of God is verse one of Genesis 22 (Barker, 1992, p. 169; Barker, 2008, p. 230; Butt and Barker, 2009). According to the King James translation of this passage, Genesis 22:1 affirms that “God did tempt Abraham” (KJV) to sacrifice his son Isaac. However, since James 1:13 says: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (KJV, emp. added), Barker has insisted that God is like a married bachelor or a square circle—He cannot logically exist, if He both tempts and does not tempt.
If Genesis 22:1 actually taught that God really tempted Abraham to commit evil and sin, then the God of the Bible might be a “square circle,” i.e., a logical contradiction. But, the fact of the matter is, God did not tempt Abraham to commit evil. Barker and others have formulated this argument based upon the King James Version and only one meaning of the Hebrew word (nissâ) that is used in Genesis 22:1. Although the word can mean “to tempt,” the first two meanings that Brown, Driver, and Briggs give for nissâ in their Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament is “to test, to try” (1993). Likewise, the Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (1997) defines the word simply “to test” (Jenni and Westermann, 1997, 2:741-742). The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament agrees that nissâ is best translated, whether in secular or theological contexts, as “testing” (Botterweck, et al., 1998, 9:443-455). For this reason, virtually all major translations in recent times, including the NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, and RSV, translate Genesis 22:1 using the term “tested,” not tempted.
When David put on the armor of King Saul prior to battling Goliath, the shepherd realized: “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested (nissâ) them” (1 Samuel 17:39, emp. added). Obviously, this testing had nothing to do with David “tempting” his armor; he simply had not tested or tried on Saul’s armor previously. God led Israel during 40 years of desert wanderings “to humble…and test” them (Deuteronomy 8:2, emp. added), not to tempt them to sin. Notice also the contrast in Exodus 20:20 between (1) God testing man and (2) trying to cause man to sin. After giving Israel the Ten Commandments, Moses said: “Do not fear; for God has come to test(nissâyou, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin” (Exodus 20:20, emp. added). If one were to use Barker’s reasoning that nissâ must mean “to tempt,” regardless of the context, then he would have to interpret Exodus 20:20 to mean that God tempted Israel to sin, so that they would not sin—which would be an absurd interpretation.
When a person interprets the Bible, or any other book, without recognizing that words have a variety of meanings and can be used in various senses, a rational interpretation is impossible. Many alleged Bible contradictions are easily explained simply by acknowledging that words are used in a variety of ways (as they are today). Is a word to be taken literally or figuratively? Must the term in one place mean the exact same thing when in another context, or may it have different meanings? If English-speaking Americans can intelligibly converse about running to the store in the 21st century by driving a car, or if we can easily communicate about parking on driveways, and driving on parkways, why do some people have such a difficult time understanding the various ways in which words were used in Bible times? Could it be that some Bible critics like Barker are simply predisposed to interpret Scripture unfairly? The evidence reveals that is exactly what is happening.
Rather then contradicting James 1:13, Genesis 22:1 actually corresponds perfectly with what James wrote near the beginning of his epistle: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (1:2-4, emp. added). By instructing Abraham to sacrifice his promised son (cf. Hebrews 11:17), God gave Abraham another opportunity to prove his loyalty to Him, while Abraham simultaneously used this trial to continue developing a more complete, mature faith.

SEEING JEHOVAH "FACE TO FACE"

Another attack that skeptics have levied against God, Genesis, and the inspired writers, involves the theophanies of God. Throughout the book of Genesis, Moses recorded where Jehovah “appeared” to man several times. He appeared to Abraham at about the age of 75 (12:7). He appeared to him again about a quarter of a century later (17:1). Prior to His destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God appeared to Abraham in Mamre (18:1). The Lord also appeared to Isaac and Jacob (26:2; 26:24; 35:9). In Genesis 32:30, after wrestling with God, Jacob even exclaimed, “I have seen God face to face” (emp. added). Such appearances of Jehovah in Genesis have caused some to question the reliability of the Bible, and in particular the book of Genesis (Wells, 2012). How could God have appeared to man, and spoken to him “face to face,” when other biblical passages clearly teach that God’s face cannot be seen (Exodus 33:20-23; John 1:18; 1 John 4:12)?
Although in modern times words are regularly used in many different senses (e.g., hot and cold, good and bad), Bible critics have dismissed the possibility that the terms in the aforementioned passages were used in various ways. Throughout Scripture, however, words are often used in different ways. In James 2:5, the term “poor” refers to material wealth, whereas the term “rich” has to do with a person’s spiritual well-being (cf. Lyons, 2006). In Philippians 3:12,15, Paul used the term “perfect” (NASB) in different senses. Although Paul had attained spiritual maturity (“perfection”) in Christ (vs. 15), he had not yet attained the perfect “final thing, the victor’s prize of the heavenly calling in Christ Jesus” (Schippers, 1971, 2:62; cf. Philippians 3:9-11). Similarly, in one sense, man has seen God, but in another sense he has not.
Consider the first chapter of John where we learn that in the beginning Jesus was with God and “was God” (1:1; cf. 14,17). Though John wrote that Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14), he indicated only four sentences later that “no one has seen God at any time” (1:18; 1 John 4:12). Was Jesus God? Yes. Did man see Jesus? Yes. So in what sense has man not seen God? No human has ever seen Jesus in His true image (i.e., as a spirit Being [John 4:24] in all of His fullness, glory, and splendor). When God, the Word, appeared on Earth 2,000 years ago, He came in a veiled form. In his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul mentioned that Christ—Who had existed in heaven “in the form of God”—“made Himself of no reputation,” and took on the “likeness of men” (2:6-7). Mankind saw an embodiment of deity as Jesus dwelt on Earth in the form of a man. Men saw “the Word” that “became flesh.” Likewise, when Jacob “struggled with God” (Genesis 32:28), He saw only a form of God, not the spiritual, invisible, omnipresent God Who fills heaven and Earth (Jeremiah 23:23-24).
But what about those statements which indicate that man saw or spoke to God “face to face”? Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face” (Genesis 32:30). Gideon proclaimed: “I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face” (Judges 6:22). Exodus 33:11 affirms that “the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” First, although these men witnessed great and awesome things, they still only saw manifestations of God and a part of His glory (cf. Exodus 33:18-23). Second, the words “face” and “face to face” are used in different senses in Scripture. Though Exodus 33:11 reveals that God spoke to Moses “face to face,” only nine verses later God told Moses, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (33:20). Are we to believe that the author of Exodus was so misguided and careless that he wrote contradictory statements within only nine verses of each other? Surely not. What then does the Bible mean when it says that God “knew” (Deuteronomy 34:10), “spoke to” (Exodus 33:11), and “saw” man “face to face” (Genesis 32:30)?
A logical answer can be found in Numbers 12. Aaron and Miriam had spoken against Moses and arrogantly asked: “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” (Numbers 12:2). God then appeared to Aaron and Miriam, saying: “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the Lord” (Numbers 12:6-8, emp. added). Notice the contrast: God spoke to the prophets of Israel through visions and dreams, but to Moses He spoke, “not in dark sayings,” but “plainly.” In other words, God, Who never showed His face to Moses (Deuteronomy 33:20), nevertheless allowed Moses to see “some unmistakable evidence of His glorious presence” (Jamieson, et al., 1997), and spoke to him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (33:11), i.e., He spoke to Moses plainly and directly.

CONCLUSION

Neither the book of Genesis nor the Bible as a whole reveals “mutually incompatible characteristics of God” as modern-day skeptics have alleged. In actuality, many comments by the enemies of God reveal their devious, dishonest handling of Truth (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:15). Think about it: If skeptics can work “side by side” with a colleague without literally working inches from him (Barker, 2008, p. 335), or if he can see “eye to eye” with a fellow atheist without ever literally looking into the atheist’s eyes, then can they not understand that, for example, God could speak “face to face” with the patriarchs and prophets of old without literally revealing to them His full, glorious “face”? Indeed, it is the inconsistent allegations of the critic that should be under scrutiny. He readily accepts the understandable, non-discrepant differences in many modern-day writings, yet loudly protests against similar logical, explainable differences in Scripture.
Skeptics’ assertions in no way prove that the God of the Bible does not exist or that the Bible is unreliable. In fact, the opposite is true. The more that skeptics test the Scriptures, trying to find flaws of all kinds, the more evidence comes to light that it is actually of Divine origin (see Butt, 2007).
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

REFERENCES

Archer, Gleason L. (1982), An Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith in Faith (Madison, WI: Freedom From Religion Foundation).
Barker, Dan (2008), godless (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).
Botterweck, G. Johannes, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry (1998), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles B. Briggs (1993), A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Buchman, R. Paul (2011), “1001 Contradictions and Discrepancies in the Christian Bibles,” http://www.1001biblecontradic-tions.com/index.html.
Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), The Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Davis, John J. (1963), “The Patriarchs’ Knowledge of Jehovah: A Critical Monograph on Exodus 6:3,” Grace Theological Journal, 4[1]:29-43, Winter.
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Jenni, Ernst and Claus Westerman (1997), Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Lyons, Eric (2006), “Answering the Allegations,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=539.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books).
Morris, Henry M. (1976), The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Schippers, R. (1971), TelosThe New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Wells, Steve (2012), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/seen.html.

The Omnipotence of God by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1396

The Omnipotence of God

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


God is the only being Who possesses omnipotence. In the Oxford English Dictionary, “omnipotence” is defined as “all-powerfulness,” or “almightiness.” In other words, when God wants something to be done, it is done. God has all power in heaven and on Earth (Matthew 28:18), so unlike the limited power of humans, which is constrained by time, space, and force, God’s capabilities are limited only by His own character (see Miller, 2003). Paul wrote of God’s omnipotence in the sense that He is “above all, and through all, and in you all,” (Ephesians 4:6). God is preeminent for many reasons, not the least of which is His great power.
God has complete power over the Earth. The very first chapter of the Bible (Genesis 1) is full of references to God’s power. The words of His mouth brought the Universe into existence; He spoke the Cosmos into existence with only a word (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 11:3). In order to create the Universe, God needed no pre-existing matter with which to work; rather, He Himself spoke the very first matter into existence (see Thompson, et al., 2003a2003b). After He created “the heavens and the Earth,” He spoke “light” into existence on Earth (Genesis 1:3). After creating light, He created the firmament, and much more, all by the power of His word.
God has complete power over the spiritual realm. Just as the first chapter in the Bible reveals that God created light on Earth, the last chapter in the Bible reminds us that God’s power will be responsible for the eternal light in heaven (Revelation 22:5). Christ repeatedly cast out devils during His earthly ministry (Matthew 8:16; 9:32-33; 12:22), and James revealed that the demons believe in the one God of the Bible, and that because they are aware of God’s omnipotence, they tremble (Luke 8:31; James 2:19). God now limits Satan himself, keeping him from directly inhabiting people or causing people physical pain (Zechariah 13:1-2).
Only God can perform “wonders,” and only God can furnish that capability to others (Job 5:9; Psalm 72:18; John 3:2). Christ again revealed His power over the spiritual realm when He brought Lazarus’ soul back from the realm of departed spirits, and returned it to Lazarus’ body (John 11:43). Similarly, God will resurrect all the dead one day, having already determined the fate of their souls (Mark 12:26-27; Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 15:15,32; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
God has complete power over the affairs of men. John Waddey observed: “God was known to the patriarchs as El-Shaddai, God Almighty (Exodus 6:2-3). The term Shaddai, when connected with the Hebrew word El (God) means, ‘the mighty One to nourish, satisfy and supply.’ Thus we see His power to send forth blessings for He is the all-bountiful One” (1987, p. 1). It makes sense, then, that when Moses spoke to the entire assembly of the children of Israel the lyrics of a lengthy song, he included this line: “Nor is there any that can deliver out of My [God’s] hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39). Of course, just as God has the power to bless us and deliver the righteous from spiritual harm, He also has the uncontainable power to destroy the wicked, as can be seen in His utter destruction of the world through the global Flood of Noah’s time (except eight souls; see Thompson, 1999a).
The plural form of ElElohim, brings to light the fullness of God’s power, in that it highlights the Trinity (Psalm 38:75). Still another Old Testament expression used to denote omnipotence is Abhir, or “strong One” (Genesis 49:24; see Vos, 1994, 3:2188-2190). Jesus said that God is Spirit, emphasizing that God is not limited by impotence of flesh, as are humans (Isaiah 2:22; 31:3; John 4:24).
God’s power over the nations of the Earth is evident. Though God used the children of Israel as His means for bringing Christ to Earth, God’s power over large groups of people has never been limited to Israel. God has authority over all nations, and frequently has used them to accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 10:5; Jeremiah 25:9; Amos 1). Job said: “He makes nations great and destroys them” (Job 12:23). Kings have their dominion only because God allows it (see Custance, 1977, p. 134). Vos observed: “The prophets ascribe to Jehovah not merely relatively greater power than to the gods of the nations, but His power extends into the sphere of the nations, and the heathen gods are ignored in the estimate put upon His might (Isaiah 31:3)” [1994, 3:2189]. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar was warned:
This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men…. This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses (Daniel 4:17,24-25, emp. added).
God has complete power over the devil, whom He created (though the devil was not evil at the time of his creation; see Colley, 2004). While the devil has certain powers that humans do not possess (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; see Thompson, 1999b, pp. 11-12), Satan is not omnipotent. During his temptation of Christ, Satan admitted that whatever power he possessed had been “delivered to him” (Luke 4:6). Satan had to ask for God’s permission to harm Job (Job 1:7-12). Jesus said that Satan had desired to sift Peter as wheat; that is, Satan sought the express permission of God. Without it, Satan would be powerless to tempt Peter. While God never had a beginning, Satan was created (Colossians 1:16). For this, and other reasons, Satan is not omnipotent, and his power is far less potent than the power of God. John wrote: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
If we were to try to imagine someone whose power approached God’s might, we might think of Satan. Yet, the Bible reveals that nothing is too hard for the Lord—even defeating Satan (Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17). In fact, Christ already conquered the devil, and eventually will punish him everlastingly in hell (Matthew 25:41; see Thompson, 1999b, pp. 12-13). Hebrews 2:14 reads: “He [Christ] Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Milton, in Paradise Lost, wrote of Satan: “Him the Almighty Power hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky…Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms” (1.49).
God’s complete power is unending. Because God would not be God if He were not omnipotent, and because we know that God will never end, we can know that God’s power will never cease or diminish (see Colley, 2004). Furthermore, Isaiah plainly stated: “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable” (40:28).

CONCLUSION

God’s omnipotence reassures us, because it is through the Divine power that His servants know that “nothing will be impossible” to those who faithfully serve Him (Matthew 17:20; Mark 9:23; Philippians 4:13). Those who are not faithful to the Lord should be terror-stricken by God’s omnipotence, because, in the Day of Judgment, the very force that created the Universe will condemn them to an everlasting punishment. Vos commented that omnipotence
evokes a specific religious response. This is true, not only of the Old Testament, where the element of the fear of God stands comparatively in the foreground, but remains true also in the New Testament. Even in our Lord’s teaching the prominence given to the fatherhood and love of God does not preclude that the transcendent majesty of the Divine nature, including omnipotence, is kept in full view and made a potent factor in the cultivation of the religious mind (Matthew 6:9). The beauty of Jesus’ teaching on the nature of God consists in this, that He keeps the exaltation of God above every creature and His loving condescension toward the creature in perfect equilibrium and makes them mutually fructified by each other. Religion is more than the inclusion of God in the general altruistic movement of the human mind; it is a devotion at every point colored by the consciousness of that Divine uniqueness in which God’s omnipotence occupies a foremost place (1994, 3:2190).
Little wonder that the multitude of Revelation 19:6 cried: “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” The fact that God so willingly uses His omnipotent capacity for the ultimate benefit of His servants should motivate everyone to obey the Gospel (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). We will not escape the vengeance of God if we neglect the great salvation offered us (Hebrews 2:3).

REFERENCES

Colley, Caleb (2004), “The Eternality of God,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2565.
Custance, Arthur C. (1977), Time and Eternity and Other Biblical Studies (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Things God Cannot Do,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2292.
Lockyer, Herbert (1997), All the 3s of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Thompson, Bert (1999a), The Global Flood of Noah (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), second edition.
Thompson, Bert (1999b), Satan—His Origin and Mission (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press, 2001 reprint).
Thompson, Bert, Brad Harrub, and Branyon May (2003a), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique [Part I],” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/22.
Thompson, Bert, Brad Harrub, and Branyon May (2003b), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique [Part II],” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/26.
Vos, Geerhardus (1994), “Omnipotence,” The International Bible Encyclopaedia, ed. James Orr, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Waddey, John (1987), “The Omnipotence of God,” Firm Foundation, 104[18]:1,4, September 22.