How is God Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient?

How is God Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient?

Is God omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient? In answering such questions, we should always begin with another question: “What does the Bible teach on these matters?” If our beliefs are not rooted in God’s inspired word, they are not beliefs worth having!...

Is God Omnipotent?

This is, perhaps, the easiest of the three to answer: Yes, God is omnipotent! There is even a verse that, in the King James Version and New King James Version, uses this very word: “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!” (Revelation 19:6).

The Greek word translated as “Omnipotent” here is pantokrator, meaning “All-ruling” or (as it is more frequently translated) “Almighty.” When we say God is “Almighty,” we are stating our belief in His authority and rulership over all creation, and the Bible is firm in declaring this fact. Even though Satan is now the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4), it belongs to him only because Almighty God has granted it to Him: “And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority [over all the kingdoms of this world] I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish’” (Luke 4:6).

It is God who ultimately reigns in the universe, and all legitimate authority must derive from Him. If we let Scripture tell us of God’s authority, we must agree that He has all authority to do all His pleasure (Isaiah 46:10–11), and to see to the fulfillment of His plans without fail. If we accept the Scriptural definition of “almighty”—and we must accept no other!—we can rightly call God omnipotent. Indeed, Christ says clearly that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

However, if we were to insist that omnipotent meant God could do anything and everything at all, we would need to reject that description, because His word says He cannot! For example, God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), and He “cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). The Bible clearly shows that God cannot act contrary to His nature. But do these “cannots” mean He is not omnipotent—not almighty? Not if we let Scripture define its own terms!

Is God Omnipresent?

Correctly understood, the question of God’s omnipotence has historically caused little controversy. The term omnipresent, however, has caused more trouble. Basically, being omnipresent means being present everywhere at the same time. Can this term be applied to God? What does Scripture tell us?

Ask yourself: is there any physical location in this universe where we can hide from the presence of God? The answer, according to Scripture, is a resounding “No!” In fact, King David posed this question directly, asking: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell [the grave], behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:7–10).

David answers the question beautifully: it is futile to search for a place to hide from the presence of God (and it is unwise to try—just ask Jonah!). In this sense, God’s infallible word shows that He is omnipresent—within His vast creation, there is no place where you can hide from His presence.

Still, we must be careful with our terms! Many have tried to twist God’s omnipresence to portray Him as some kind of shapeless “blob”—even though the Bible clearly shows that God has a body and a shape—and it is a shape like ours! Consider Genesis 1:26, which tells us that man is made in God’s image and likeness—words that do convey a sense of shape. We do not use human philosophies to avoid the clear statements of Scripture! Consider, as well, the passage in which God says unambiguously that He has a face, a hand and a back (Exodus 33:18–23)! The only way to understand this passage from Exodus without making a mockery of God’s word is to agree that God has a shape and a body!

So, how is God “everywhere”? We already read the answer, in David’s words: “Where can I go from your Spirit?” (Psalm 139:7). It is by their Spirit that the Father and the glorified Christ have complete access to their creation! Through His Spirit, God’s reach extends to every nook and cranny of the universe, and there is—as David wrote—no place to flee from His presence. Yet He still retains a shape—a body—ruling in glory from His throne in heaven. It is from there that “His eyes behold” the sons of men (Psalm 11:4).

We must also note that although God is omnipresent through His Spirit, we can become separated from Him. In fact, we are warned, “your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Jesus Christ experienced this horrible separation during His crucifixion, when on our behalf He took upon Himself the full penalty of our sins (cf. Mark 15:34; Isaiah 53:4–5).

The world’s scholars and theologians often have a wrong idea about God’s omnipresence. But if we let God’s flawless word teach us what God’s omnipresence truly means, our footing is made sure.

Is God Omniscient?

Having considered God’s omnipotence and His omnipresence, we can address the most troublesome of the “Three ‘O’s”— His omniscience. Is God omniscient?

Philosophers and theologians have debated this question over the millennia. Were you to read what the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says about God’s omniscience, you would find more philosophical gobbledygook than you may have seen in your entire life. So, before we determine whether or not God is omniscient, we need to recognize that the world has some weird and conflicting ideas about what this word means. Why is there so much confusion?

The Random House Unabridged Dictionary (2006) offers this definition of omniscient: “having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.” That is quite a mouthful; what does it mean to have “complete or unlimited knowledge”? Scholars disagree about what it means, but if we let the lamp of God’s word light our path and guide our steps (Psalm 119:105), we can know the truth of the matter.

The Bible tells us that God does perceive all things, which means that no fact can be hidden from His knowledge. As King David recognized: “Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You” (Psalm 139:12). God sees all things, and nothing can be hidden from His knowledge—not even the secret intentions of the heart (Psalm 44:21). In fact, He understands our own intentions better than we do (cf. Jeremiah 17:9-10; Hebrews 4:12)! As Paul explains, “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

Human beings perceive through the senses, but there are limits to what the senses let us perceive and understand. But God’s senses are not limited like ours! His Spirit searches all things (1 Corinthians 2:10), and nothing is beyond God’s ability to perceive it. In this sense, He is omniscient. Nothing can escape His gaze and His knowledge. If it can be known, He knows it!

But if we are to use the word omniscient to describe our Father and His glorified Son, it cannot mean that God knows our every choice before we make it in every circumstance, because Scripture tells us otherwise! For example, the Bible shows that when God gave Abraham the supreme test of sacrificing his son Isaac, He did not know until that moment whether Abraham would choose to obey. Upon seeing his choice, He told Abraham: “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12). This was one of the most crucial points in the history of faith and in the plan of God! It was a challenge so intense, and involving such faith, that God did not know what choice Abraham would make.

Most of the choices we make each day may be rather predictable. Parents with young children can see this for themselves. If a parent can often predict a young child’s choices, how much more can the One who sees all—even the intent of our heart, which we sometimes do not know ourselves—predict our choices? Yet the Bible reveals that God does arrange circumstances to challenge our character— to help us to grow—where the outcome is not so predictable. When we choose, we participate with God in the creation of our character. We have a role to play in God’s creation of His character within us, as He prepares us to become future members of His Family! We should not allow vain philosophy to rob us of this truth.

It is not that God cannot determine the future. He can, and He does! We read: “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9–10).

Yet this passage shows that declaring the end from the beginning is not just a function of “seeing” what is “destined” to happen. Continuing in Isaiah, we read that God acts and intervenes in history to accomplish His ends, “calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it” (v. 11).

We can say with confidence that God is omniscient. But we must allow the Bible to define what omniscient means. Let the world’s theologians and philosophers wander from the path of Scripture in their pointless arguments if they choose—we need not follow them!

The Final Word

So, what does God’s word teach us? We learn from Scripture that God is omnipotent—or “almighty”—such that no part of creation can escape His influence or authority. We see that God—through His Spirit—is omnipresent, such that no part of creation can escape His presence. And we understand that God—perceiving all things—is omniscient, such that no part of creation can escape His knowledge...

But is there any practical use for this knowledge? Yes, absolutely! We should never forget that God has called us to become His full sons and daughters, to share His level of existence with us for all eternity. Just as these characteristics— amazing power, access to all of the universe and perception of all things—apply to Christ and the Father now, they one day will apply to us!

As John wrote in his epistle, “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). The more clearly we can see our awesome calling, the better we can put this present life into perspective. So, for those who wish to purify themselves, understanding the nature of the God Family has more practical application than you might at first assume!

As we seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, let us be motivated by our high calling and our ultimate destiny! We must avoid the snares and pretensions of this world’s philosophers, and instead let God teach us truthfully of His glory, that we may one day share it with Him.

Source: Smith, Wallace. God and the "Three 'O's. Living Church News, Sep-Dec 2007, pp. 10-12,20

Several articles on the Godhead and the Nature of God include:
How is God Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient? How is God Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient? Reviewed by Kannuri JOEL on 03:47:00 Rating: 5

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