Tag Archives: power
“Can God create a rock heavier than He can lift?”, asks your provocative non-Christian friend. Be careful how you answer this question! If you say, “Of course! God can create such a rock!”, your friend will say, “Then it’s a rock He cannot lift!” If you say, “No! He can’t create such a rock!”, he will say, “Aha! Then there’s something He can’t do!” (we’ll give our answer to this question at the end of this post).
Omnipotence means God’s all-powerfulness. What do the Scriptures say about God’s power?
Daniel 4:35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’
Isaiah 14:27 “For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”
Matthew 19:26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Jeremiah 32:27 “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
Job 42:2: “I know that you can do all things and that no plan of yours can be thwarted.”
Some lessons from God’s omnipotence:
1. God exercises His power according to His will — which no one can successfully question or overcome.
2. When God acts, or proposes to act, no one can reverse His hand!
3. No one can frustrate the plans of God; no one can turn back His stretched-out hand.
4. What is impossible with man is possible with God — especially the salvation of lost people.
5. Nothing is too difficult for the Lord!
6. He can do all things and no plan of His can be thwarted.
But the Bible does say there are some things that God cannot do, such as lie (Heb. 6:18) or cease to be God.
So, here’s my answer to the question “Can God create a rock heavier than He can lift?” The answer is — that is a bad question! It is like the question, “Have you stopped beating your dog?” If you say “Yes!,” then the person could say, “Oh, you’ve been beating your dog?!” If you say “No!,” then the person could say, “Oh, you’re still beating your dog?!”
God can do all things consistent with His nature. He cannot sin; He cannot cease to be God. And, aren’t you glad?
One of the disciplines that is helpful to me as I approach a preaching or teaching assignment is to blog on that topic, if possible, months before that engagement. I’m thankful that the folks at Biblical Eldership Resources (website: biblicaleldership.com) have asked me to speak at their simulcast conference in Rochester, NY, on March 24th.
The topic given me is “Faithful Preaching and the Power of the Spirit.” This will be two parts and will be incorporated into the BER website’s curriculum.
Some questions that occur to me that I’ll need to work on include . . .
1. How is the Spirit’s work different for the preacher than it is for the “average” Christian?
2. How does one know when one is preaching in the Spirit’s power?
4. Should a preacher be able to say post-sermon, “My, the Spirit was in that!” or “I think the Spirit stayed home on that message.”
5. What differences does the Spirit of God make in our preaching? He is the Unseen Teacher. What evidences ought there to be that He has been involved in the entire process from preparation to delivery?
6. The Holy Spirit’s “illumination” ministry — How does that relate to the preacher? To his hermeneutics? To his efforts to apply what he sees in the biblical text?
7. How does one preach “in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Cor. 2:4-5)?
8. If the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, when can I as a preacher be confident I am proclaiming the truth? Are there levels of confidence? What’s the place of being dogmatic in my declarations?
9. What’s the relationship between human skill (oratory ability, hermeneutical acumen, vocal effectiveness, illustrative wisdom, etc.) and the Spirit’s empowerment?
10. Other Scriptures to examine: I Corinthians 2 regarding human wisdom and the demonstration of the Spirit; texts where the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin such as Acts 2; I Thessalonians 1:5 (“because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.”), etc.
Are there questions that you can think of which I ought to consider? (I’ll let you know how my work progresses on this topic).
Why would the Lord Jesus create a situation in which His only response would be weeping? Could He not have stopped His friend from dying — and put an end to the sisters’ grief — and His own? Let’s look at the next section of John 11 . . .
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
When invited to come and see Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus joined Mary and Martha and the professional mourners in weeping. He was moved by their grief. He was broken by the sadness that death had brought to that family.
Some Jews there said, “See how he loved him!” (v. 36). Jesus’ tears showed His great love for that trio.
But others asked, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (v. 37). What that group failed to realize was that ability does not equal appropriateness. Power does not supercede plan. The issue was not Jesus’ capability but His purpose.
We may assume that the blind man and his healing to which the Jews refer is the man born blind in John 9. But their logic was as follows: Jesus showed His power to a blind stranger <<>> Now someone He loved was dying <<>> Real love is intervening in that loved one’s tragedy <<>> Jesus doesn’t keep His friend from dying (and He could have) <<>> Therefore, Jesus doesn’t really love Lazarus and Mary and Martha. Our logic often gets us in trouble too, doesn’t it? (to be continued)
Let’s summarize what we have seen thus far. Jesus’ good friends are in crisis. Their brother is dying and Jesus purposely does not come to their rescue. There seems to be no other conclusion one can come to other than Jesus stayed away to give Lazarus time to die!
He then decides to go to Judea, a dangerous place, to get involved in the situation. Let’s read a bit further in John 11 . . .
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Fully aware of the danger in Judea, Jesus tells His disciples why He is going there: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (v. 11). Again, there was no doubt that Lazarus was Jesus’ “friend.”
Jesus uses a figure of speech (called a euphemism) to describe Lazarus’ condition — he has “fallen asleep.” Jesus knew that Lazarus had died. But to the Lord of glory, this was nothing more than a nap! And Jesus was going to wake Lazarus up from his “nap”!
The worst thing that could ever happen to a person (death), Jesus describes as a nap (sleep). What power the Lord had! And still has. (to be continued)