At one time or another, all of us have wondered about what makes men and women great in this world. What we can conclude is that the powerful people of the world need a variety of things in order to be powerful … they need a prestigious position, the people to support them and money. A ruler needs a political system or a military in order to rule a nation. Some great people have needed great charm to manipulate and even deceive people in order to win them. We would all agree that great people would not be great unless they had certain means for making them great. It is sobering to realize that our human might by itself, without any outside means, is confined within very narrow limits. We can change our thoughts, fix our attention on a particular object, and voluntarily move muscles in our body. But apart from this our inherent power does not extend beyond you or me. In order for all other things to happen, we must use the needed means outside ourselves.
Just think about the means you use every day to accomplish your daily work. You have a job with an organized company that is a major means. You need the means of a car or transportation to get to work. If you are In-flight, you need an airplane serviced by mechanics and you need passengers serviced by reservation as well as ticket and gate agents. You will need a trained crew to handle the equipment and the people. Wow, that is a lot of means required for just my work.
When it comes to God and His greatness, outside means are not needed to accomplish His purposes and goals. Though He chooses to incorporate the use of human means, they are simply not needed with God. The apostle Paul in Acts 17 was addressing a group of philosophers who were experts in knowing the different gods of their day. Their philosophy was full of stories about how the gods needed man to make them complete. Paul used this occasion to tell them about the Lord of heaven. Listen to verses 24-25:
“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things.”
When the bible speaks about the greatness of God, it means that God has a divine will and has the power to exercise His will. Though we humans need means to accomplish our will, with God means are not necessary. He wills something and it is done, without effort or loss of power (Read: Genesis 18:14; Psalm.148:5-6; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37). We will look at a few angles the Bible takes in describing the greatness of God.
First of all, when the Bible speaks of God’s greatness, it means that by the sheer exercise of His will God can create things, literally by the word of His power (Read: Psalm 33:6‑9; 148:1‑6; Isaiah.40:26; 42:5; 48:12-13). In the first chapter of Genesis God said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” and He said, “Let there be… and it was” (Genesis 1:1,3,6,9,14,20). Some have used this to say that this same ultimate power is in the individual words themselves. I do not believe this is what it means. Rather it portraying that the power is in God, not in individual words. The individual words themselves in the Bible are there to convey truth (using words), which God uses to reveal Himself to us. This truth is an established authority based on the power of God.
The next angle the Bible gives us about the power and greatness of God is that He is free to carry out His power because God has no need of other means to carry out His will. You see, because he does not need any of our means to perform His plans, He is free from manipulating us. He also is not under pressure to react because circumstances are just right. And because of this, His actions are done according to “His good pleasure,” not according to needed means (Read: Ephesians 1:5,9, Philippians 2:13; 1:6). We are also told that He is free from being caught off guard or having to change plans. Neither Satan nor any human actions forces God to use his power, He does so because He chooses. With His power He is supremely controlling the course of events (e.g. Daniel 4:34-35). Christ demonstrated this great power by speaking, and winds ceased, the sick were healed, the blind received their sight, and the dead were raised. While He was here in the flesh, Christ also withheld using this power at times. When Jesus said that if it were possible for Him he could make even the stones cry out, He could have done so but did not. He also could have sent 12 legions of angels, but he didn’t.
Do you understand what this means for us? God acts purely out of His good pleasures when he chooses to use His power or not to use His power! He does not need votes, money, or a military to rule. He is the sovereign God, and His greatness is only as sure as His ability to bring about His will immediately and without using any means outside of Himself. The mere thought that He created at will implies He is all-powerful (Isaiah 40:26, Amos 4:13).
This brings us to question: If God has absolute power to carry out his will universally, does it mean that He is responsible for even the evil that is being done? The Bible makes the distinction between the “Absolute Power of God” and the “Ordered Power of God.” The absolute power of God speaks of Him exercising His power without using any second cause or means. This is evident in the Bible and in our own time when God chooses to supernaturally bring about His will through a miracle. On the other hand, the ordered power of God is when He chooses to provide through natural and human means that He has established. These are other means that God uses to provide. We are told that God provides food for the just and unjust through the sun and rain, which causes vegetation to grow (Matthew 5:45). This whole process is something that He ordered to work with consistency. These natural and human structures God has put into operation with certain power that God has given them, and they exist through His will (Read: Psalm 148:5-6; Jeremiah 31:35-36).
Now you may ask, “How does this relate to me personally?” Have you ever felt that you are helpless and do not have the power to change your life? Well, the good news is that the Christian life most definitely is not based on the ability of our own power or resources. It starts by the power of God and it is lived through an enabling power that God works in our lives. Sadly though, many people want to see God’s power change their circumstances without Him changing their hearts.
The Christian life starts by a supernatural act of God. He forgives us our sins through Christ’s redemption for us and gives us new life (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). The Bible calls this salvation, and it is impossible for humans to attain and receive this on their own. But with God it is possible because He gives it freely by His grace (Matthew 19:25-26; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 1:12).
The Christian life starts by faith in the power of God to forgive and change us. But it also continues by faith in God’s powerful resources to sustain us. It has been said that the Christian life is not hard to live, it is simply impossible to live without God’s continual work in our lives (Read: Ephesians 1:18-19; 3:16-17; 6:10; 2 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 3:4-5; 4:6,7; Colossian 1:9-11,29).
The power of God in the Christian life results in our being changed from the inside to the outside. We experience this in proportion to our trust and obedience in Him. When circumstances become adverse, God wants us to experience the power to resist. Only when we begin to see His greatness, as well as our own weakness, can we begin to experience God’s power in our lives. Don’t wait until Sunday, God is waiting now!
Read: Isaiah 40:28-31; 2 Corinthians 12:9
NEXT Click on Part 3 The Unchangeable God