Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
Psalms 147:5 ESV
As with the other communicable attributes of God (attributes that God, in some respect, shares with His creation,) the gap between us and God is not merely one of quantity, but one of quality.
Before we dive in, let’s define the quality we’re observing presently
the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality.
As with most communicable attributes of God, we can relate with certain aspects, and in other aspects we are left unable to express or comprehend the wholly other-ness of God. So it is with His omnipotence.
We can imagine a very strong man, and then we might imagine that God is like that, only way stronger. I would have to say, though, that power does not necessarily equate to strength.
We can imagine the reign of a very noble and respected king, and think that God is like that king, only His reign is much more comprehensive. I would have to push back against that notion and say that power is not merely control.
We can imagine that the authority of God is like a Supreme Court Justice, and that God is similar, only He gets to set all of the laws over nature; not only the legal matters of a country. I would, again, have to say that power is not only governance.
All of these comparisons are saying that we, in some small, shadowy way, exhibit some of the same attributes that God does. That doesn’t mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that we should try to understand how God is by looking at what we are like. We must ever and only know things about God by what He has revealed to us in His word.
God’s omnipotence, then, is not the same kind of power we have, just to a greater degree. It’s of a completely different substance. It is something completely other.
For Instance, when I exercise my power and lift a box off the floor, I exert myself in the process. Picking my cell phone up when I drop it doesn’t require as much energy from me compared to when I have to move around a full filing cabinet. For God this is not the case. For God, swaying the tiny flower in the breeze does not exert less energy than moving the mighty mountain, or shifting and shaping the cosmos. This is because when we exert ourselves, we exchange or lose something in the process. We strain our muscles or burn calories. God, in His infinitude, does not lose any part of Himself when He creates, sustains, or governs.
I spoke of our exerting in the form of physical labor, but God does not operate this way (as He is pure spirit, and does not have a physical form, save the person of Jesus Christ.) God, in His wisdom, has chosen to operate in the world via the ordinary means of His creation. When God wants to move a mountain, He uses tectonic plates. He doesn’t reach down, pick it up, and put it back down somewhere else. The measured, predictable, reliable nature of His creation is a great gift to us. We can rely on the sun, the tide, the wind, the moon, and the stars to be the same tomorrow as they were yesterday. This is how God chooses to govern His creation, through means. The natural order of things.
He does not only govern through means, but He also actively causes-to-be everything that exists, for every moment that it exists. His sustaining power holds together the fabric of time and space, and knits together every particle of matter and non-matter. If He were to withdraw His sustaining power from His creation, it would cease to exist.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:15-17 ESV
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Acts 17:26-28 ESV
We have covered God’s governance and His sustaining power, now for the final expression of God’s omnipotence: His creating power.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 ESV
In the beginning, God. Before anything was, He is the I Am. He, in His benevolence and glorious wisdom, spoke the entire universe into existence. The same God who spoke the world into existence from nothing is the same God who actively sustains it, is the same God who governs it by the means which He has established. All to the glory of His wonderful name, amen.