The Nature of the Power of God.

Major Source:  Charnock, Existence and Attributes of God.

Principle

Explanation

Definition

God’s strength to act: either:

1.     Absolute, His ability to do what is possible.  This is power free from any act of God’s will.   

2.     Ordinate, His ability to do what He has decreed to do.  This is power joined with an act of God’s will.

Object of Absolute Power

Possible things: those not contradictory, or repugnant to their own nature; and things not contrary to the nature and perfections of God.

Contradiction in itself

Examples:  (1) God does not have the power, after He created the world, to make it so the world had not been created.  (2) God does not have the power to make something  that is not itself at the same time.

Contradiction to God’s Nature

Examples: (1) It is impossible for God to lie;  (2)  It is impossible for God to die.

Examples of Possible Things

1.     God could have restrained the devil from tempting Eve.

2.     God could have used Judas Iscariot instead of Paul as a mighty missionary.

3.     God could reduce the whole creation to nothingness in a moment.

4.     God could have sent twelve legions of angels to save Christ from the Cross.

Object of Ordinate Power

All things decreed and ordained by God.  This is the same power as His absolute power, for there are not two powers in God, but this is God’s power directed by His will.

Extent of God’s Power

Is. 46:10:  “His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure.”  His power is as great as his will, that is, whatsoever can fall within the verge of his will, falls within the compass of his power.

Unity of God’s Being

What in human artificers is knowledge, labor, industry, that in God is His will;  His will works without labor; His works stand forth as He wills them…. God’s power of acting is not really distinct from his will; it is sufficient to the existence of a thing that God wills it to exist; he can act what He will only by His will, without any instruments.

Matter, Instrument, Copy

God makes things from nothing; He makes time when it pleases Him to work.   He Himself is His own pattern and copy in His works.  He needs not instrument; He acts by Will alone.

Distinctions

Distinctions are according to our conceptions, in order that we may discourse about them.

1.     Understanding is apprehension, which acts in counsel and knows what is possible.

2.     Will is determination, which acts in resolution and chooses what shall be done.

3.     Wisdom is fixing the being of things, which acts in direction and regards what is fit and convenient.

4.     Power is execution, and effects what God has willed to be done.

Example of Distinction

Ephesians 1:11  “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

1.     Power is a perfection, subordinate to His understanding and will.

2.     His wisdom directs His skillful work; moving and applying His voluntary and free work.

3.     His power is will perpetually working in the season His will has fixed from eternity.

4.     Creatures were objects of His will from eternity, but they were not from eternity the effects of His power.

5.     To be unable to do evil is the perfection of power; to be able to do things unjust and evil is a weakness, imperfection, and inability.

6.     The will of God is the root of all; the wisdom of God is the copy of all; the power of God is the framer of all.

God’s Power Energizes All His Perfections

1.     His eternal counsels are vanity if He has no power to execute them.

2.     His mercy is feeble pity, if He has no power to relieve.

3.     His justice is a slighted scarecrow, without power to punish.

4.     His Promises are an empty sound without power to accomplish them.

       “God hath a powerful wisdom to attain his ends without interruption: he hath a powerful mercy to remove our misery; a powerful justice to lay all misery upon offenders: he hath a powerful truth to perform his promises; an infinite power to bestow rewards, and inflict penalties.”  --Charnock

God’s Power is Not Distinct from His Nature

1.     God has no power derived from anything outside Himself:  Ps. 62:11:  “Power belongs unto God,” that is, solely and to none else.

2.     God has strength to act without means, and no means can act any thing without his power and strength communicated to them.

3.      If the power of God were distinct from his essence, he were then compounded of substance and power, and would not be the most simple being.

Omnipotence is incommunicable to any creature: no creature can inherit it, because it is a contradiction for any creature to have the essence of God.

God’s Power Is Infinite

1.     Eph. 1:19  “What is the exceeding greatness of his power…according to the working of his mighty power.”  Eph. 3:20:  “able to do above all that we can ask or think.”

2.     Infinite power consists in the bringing things forth from nothing.  No creature can imitate God in this prerogative of power.  Rom. 4:17:  “He can call things that are not….”

3.     The creating one thing, …. As the least fly, cannot be but by an infinite power….”

4.     Since the essence of God is unquestionably infinite, his power of acting must be so also.

5.     He does not act to the extent of his power upon all occasions; it is according to his will that he works (Eph. 1)

6.     His independency of action is infinite: he wants no instrument to act.

God’s Power is not infringed by impossibility.

1.     Impossibility strengthens God’s Power, because His Power is one with His essence.

2.     God cannot lie, because He cannot deny Himself.  To suppose that God could make a contradiction true, is to make himself false, and to do just nothing.

3.     Because of God’s nature, God cannot make things contradict their own nature:  for a rational creature to be without reason; for man’s will to be compelled; that light and darkness be the same thing.

4.     It is impossible for God to lie:  Lying would be an imperfection in His faithfulness.

5.     It is impossible for God to die: Dying would be an imperfection in His life.

6.     It is impossible for God to do evil:  Doing wrong would be an imperfection of His justice.

7.     It is impossible for God to do contrary to His will:  doing contrary to His will would be an imperfection in His wisdom.

8.     It is impossible for God to deny Himself; denying Himself would be an imperfection in His Truth.

9.     It is impossible for God to change; Change would be a denial of His perfections.  If He changes, He must change in such as His will, love, wisdom, glory, power, righteousness, or glory.  This would deny His perfection in will, love, wisdom, glory, power, righteousness, or glory.

All rights reserved, 1998.  No portion of this chart may be copied by any means, including electronic, without permission of C. W. Powell, New Geneva Theological Seminary, Colorado Springs, CO.