God Almighty (Genesis 17:1-2)Written by admin on Jun 30, 2019 in - No Comments
I invite you to turn with me in your Bibles this morning back to the book of Genesis. Our passage for today’s sermon will be Genesis 17:1-2 where we will focus on what it means for God to be Almighty. If you do not have a Bible with you today, or if you’d like to follow along in the translation I will be preaching from, please make use of one of the pew Bibles where you can find this passage located on page 11.
I suspect that many of you are probably familiar with the song that we often teach our kids that goes like this; it says:
Our God is so big, so strong, and so mighty, there’s nothing our God cannot do.
Maybe you learned that song when you were a kid and maybe you have taught it to your own children—I did and I have. But, while this may seem a little bit controversial when I first say it, particularly in a sermon that is about the Almighty God, but did you know that there are actually some things that the Almighty God cannot do? Yes, even though his power and ability are unlimited, and despite what the song says, there are things that God cannot do.
Now, before you turn my mic off and run me off as your pastor, hear me out on this, because I think when you do, you’ll agree with me pretty quickly and realize that I have begun in this provocative way primarily because I want to get your attention. It’s not that what I am saying isn’t true, however. It’s just that my main objective with all of this is to get you listening.
So, what do I mean when I say that there are things that God cannot do? Well, for one, I mean what the author of the book of Hebrews says when he wrote, in Hebrews 6:18, that it is “impossible for God to lie.” That’s right, God cannot be the holy God we read about in the Bible if he were capable of telling a lie. And so, right there is something that God cannot do. He cannot lie.
But that’s not all that God cannot do. When I say that there are things that God cannot do, I also mean what James, the brother of Jesus himself, meant when he wrote in James 1:13 that “God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” So, God cannot lie, he cannot sin, and he cannot tempt others to sin. The Bible is clear on this. So the list of things God cannot do is growing.
But, that’s not all. There are some other things we know God cannot do because of what the Bible tells us about him. For example, God cannot learn. I’m not saying he has a learning disability, I am saying that it is impossible to learn when there is nothing else for you to learn. In other words, when you know everything, you can’t learn anything—and I am not talking sarcastically about your teenagers or your in-laws here. What I am saying is that because of who he is, there is nothing else for God to know and he cannot, therefore, learn anything new.
And I could continue on with this. For example, God cannot cease to exist. He cannot worry. He cannot get tired. He cannot find himself in need in anyway. He cannot be wrong. He cannot change. He cannot act in any way that is contrary to his holiness. He cannot break a promise. He cannot become unfaithful. And most importantly, he cannot stop loving his people. Yes, friends, to be God means there are things he cannot do.
But, to say that there are certain things that God cannot do does not make him any less God. In fact, it simply proves that he is God. And that is why, when theologians talk about God being almighty or omnipotent, they are not so much talking about whether or not God can do anything and everything, but what they mean is that God can do whatever he wants to do. He can do whatever pleases him. If he decides to do something, he has the ability to do it—and it is as good as done.
Think about the word omnipotent with me. It is derived from two Latin words,1 but you don’t need to know Latin to grasp what it means. First, of all the Latin word omni, which we even use in the English language, means “all.” And the Latin word potens means “powerful.” Think of what we mean when we say that something is potent—we mean that it is strong or powerful, right? Well, then to say that God is omnipotent is to say that he has all power or unlimited strength and ability.
And this is certainly one of the most basic truths we believe about God. We believe as Jeremiah 32:17 says,
Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. (Jeremiah 32:17 ESV)
And, we believe the Angel Gabriel when he tells Mary in Luke 1:37,
Nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37 ESV)
And, we believe Jesus when he says in Matthew 19:26,
With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26 ESV)
And we believe the psalmist when he says in Psalm 115:3,
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3 ESV)
In other words, there is nothing God wants to happen, that he is incapable of bringing about. That is what we mean when we say that God is almighty and omnipotent. We mean that he is all-powerful and he uses that infinite power to bring about exactly what he wants.
And so, while it’s not totally accurate to say that God can do anything and everything, the real point is clear—God is almighty and there is no power in the whole universe that is greater than him. He is completely self-sufficient and able to do anything he wants to do.
So, what are the implications of this for us? Yes, what are the implications of God being Almighty? Why does it matter to you and me? Well, I want to spend the rest of our time today highlighting three aspects of God’s Almighty power and showing you what they mean for us as his people. Because the truth is, for those of us who believe Romans 8:28—that God is working all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose—the ramifications and implications of God being almighty are huge, and they ought to bring us great comfort.
Nothing’s Too Difficult For God
And the first thing that is true because God is almighty, is that there is nothing you will face in life that is too difficult for God to handle. If you haven’t done so already, please do turn with me now in your Bibles to Genesis 17, and look on with me as I read from Genesis 17:1-2. Now remember, that during our past few sermons from Genesis, that both Abram and his wife, Sarai, have both had their own struggles with regard to God’s promise to give them a son. And apparently this is still going on. And, as we are about to see, their doubts are not completely unfounded. Notice what the Bible tells us about Abram’s age in Genesis 17:1-2. It says,
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” (Genesis 17:1–2 ESV)
Now obviously our focus for today is what God means when he identifies himself to Abram as God Almighty, but it is also helpful to understand that statement in the context of what Abram and Sarai were dealing with. In this passage, God is telling Abram about his unlimited power because he wants Abram to know that he is more than capable of keeping his promise to Abram and Sarai. He is more than capable of giving them a child no matter how old they are. He is more than capable of greatly multiplying their family. And that is because, as we have already said, nothing is too difficult for God.
And while our situations are probably very different than Abram and Sarai, I can still tell you this morning, with the absolute authority of God’s Word backing me up, that there is nothing you will face in life that is too difficult for God to handle. He is able to do anything and everything he wants for you and for the rest of his people. Now, that doesn’t mean that things are always going to work out the way that we want them to. It doesn’t mean that everything is always going to go our way. But it does mean that if there is something God wants for you, he is more than able to give it. There is nothing limiting him or holding him back.
And, in times of discouragement and despair, this can be a great comfort to us. We never have to lose hope. We never have to worry that things are happening to us that God is helpless to do anything about. We never have to worry that things are going to get so bad that God is unable to turn them around. Yes, God remains in control even when everything seems out of control. And he is even able to do the impossible—in fact, he loves to do the impossible. Because when God does the impossible, no one ought to be mistaken about who gets the credit. When Abram and Sarai eventually do have a child, long beyond child bearing years, everyone knows that child is from God.
Now, the reason we sometimes struggle to understand this and live in light of this truth, is because it is so different than our own human experience. For example, I love my children and want only good things for them as their father. But the truth is, there are things that I’d like to do for my children that I am unable to do. I cannot do for them or give to them everything that I’d like to do or give. And that’s because I am a human being with limited resources and abilities. While I may have the best intentions, I do not have unlimited power and control over the world. But God, is not limited in the way we are. He is almighty and he is able to do for us everything he wants to do. Now again, that is not always going line up with what we want him to do for us—and that is part of our struggle. But, he is more than able to do whatever he wants, and we never, ever have to lose hope, no matter what we are facing in this life.
God is never sitting in heaven looking down upon the earth and fretting and feeling out of control. (That is something else that God can’t do—he can’t fret and feel out of control.) Because, no matter how out of control things seem to be on this earth, we know as Christians that God is always in control and always able to do whatever he pleases. He is the only truly sovereign ruler of this world, and all the affairs of this world are under his authority. And that ought to be a great comfort to us as Christians. It doesn’t mean life will never be difficult, but we never have to lose hope, and we never have to worry that God is helpless to intervene when things get really bad. He is the Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth.
God Plans Cannot Be Thwarted
However, it is one thing to be able to do something—strong enough, smart enough, capable enough—but, it is another thing to be able to do something without any worry that someone could prevent you from doing what you have planned to do.
For example, I am capable of writing sermons—mediocre ones usually. But, I am capable of writing sermons. Unless something happens that is out of my control that keeps me from writing a sermon. For example, I might get sick and not be well enough to write a sermon for Sunday. Or, I might go in my office and my kids might follow me and do everything within their power to distract me. Or, maybe several unexpected things that are out of my control come up during the week that prevent me from having enough time to write a sermon. You see, having the ability to do something, is no guarantee that it is going to happen—not for human beings at least.
Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world, but not if I jump on his back before he takes off down the track. Or if I trip him right when he gets going. He can be prevented from beating someone in a race. Although he is able to outrun anyone on the planet in a fair race, he is not able to guarantee that it will happen.
But, that is not the way things work with God. No one is able to thwart his plans. No one has that sort of power—not even Satan. It is a mistake when we talk about Satan as if he were on par with God. Like there are two equal forces in the universe battling it out to see who will win. That sort of “New Age” dualistic thought pattern is not Christian. Thinking that way is to greatly overestimate Satan and to blasphemously underestimate God. Satan has no power over God and his plans for the world, and he only continues to exists because God allows him to continue to exist. But, as Christians, we never, ever have to worry about Satan or anyone else, thwarting God’s plans for us. It would be like an ant running behind the tire of my truck trying to stop me from pulling out of the driveway. That is what it is like for anyone or anything to try to stand in the way of God’s plans.
So, again, there is no one you will face in this life who can thwart God’s plans for you. There is no person or power of evil that can knock you off the course God has for you—not even by one degree. God is Almighty. Ever other power in this world pales in comparison and is really no power at all in relation to him.
So I don’t know who or what is causing you difficulty in this world. But I do know that it is no difficulty for God. He is more than able to do whatever he wants. And unlike us, there is no one who can stand in his way. There is no threat that he will be prevented from doing what he has decided to do. It doesn’t matter what the odds are from our perspective. God is more than able to overcome any obstacle that we might ever encounter (if you can even call it an obstacle when referring to God). That’s right, things that are obstacles for us, are only noticeable to him because he chooses to take notice.
God Always Does Whatever He Pleases
So, the really good news for us today, is that because God is able to do whatever he pleases, and because there is no one who can stop him from doing whatever he pleases, God always does whatever he pleases. This is never something we have to worry about. If something is pleasing to God, then that is what he does. And the only things pleasing to God are things that are good and things that are good for his people. And so, because God always does whatever he pleases, and because God is very good, we can rest assured that his promises to us are secure. That’s right, there is no situation that should ever make you worry about God keeping his promises to you.
And so, no matter how difficult things become in our lives, and no matter how crazy the world may become, we can trust that God is going to keep his promise to send Jesus again to gather all his people (both the living and the dead), to defeat all his enemies (both the living and the dead), and to establish his eternal kingdom where there will be no more sorrow, no more suffering, and no more tears. God’s Word is good. And one of the reasons it is important to study the Old Testament, and the New Testament as well, is because it gives us the opportunity to see that God has made and kept thousands of pretty big promises before. He promised Adam and Eve that one of their descendants would come and defeat Satan—and he kept that promise by sending his Son. He promised Abram and Sarai that they would have many offspring, and he not only raised up a whole nation of people who share Abram’s DNA, but he has also raised up a church full of people who are his children because they share his faith. The Bible is full of promise after promise—impossible promise after impossible promise—that God has kept. And that is because, whatever God wants to do, he is able to do. And that is because, whatever he wants to do, is not something that anyone is able to keep him from doing. As Psalm 115:3 tells us, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” And part of what pleases him is keeping the promises that he has made to his people.
Friend, I don’t know what you are facing today, but I do know a lot about God’s promises because I have read his Word. And I know that that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” when Jesus returns (Romans 8:18 ESV). And I know that Jesus is going to return, and I know that he is coming soon. I know it because God has promised it. And I know that God’s promises have never failed.
Yes, brothers and sisters, his promises are secure. Our future is secure. While life can be difficult and uncertain, there is nothing uncertain about our future. The Almighty God has made some very great promises to us, he has sent his Son to secure those promises, and he has given us his Holy Spirit as a downpayment on those promises. And there is nothing in this world, or outside of this world, that can threaten those promises in any way. God has spoken, and of all the things that God cannot do, the most important is that he cannot fail to keep a single one of his promises. Yes, friends, that is something else the Almighty God cannot do. He must, and he will, keep his promises. And that is very, very good news for us today.
- Grudem, Wayne (2009-05-18). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (p. 216). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. ↩︎