The Power of God
The first part of this meditation looked at the various aspects of raw power and how fragile mankind is subject to these forces that could destroy him. It also showed the necessity for a God of infinite power to protect us from these forces. This second part looks at how God does this, focusing more on the spiritual aspect rather than the physical or philosophical emphasized in the first part. If you have not read that first part, you can find it here: The Power of God: part 1 of 2: Power To Be
Beyond the more obvious forces and powers that pose a danger to human beings in a physical universe, there is also the hidden and therefore largely unrecognized danger of spiritual powers. Many people in this world are completely unaware of these powers and dangers, because their worldview has no room for anything other than the material world. This is the worldview of evolutionists and the stricter interpretation of the scientific worldview. Such views are commonplace today, and contradict the warning given in Scripture that the greatest dangers to existence are not physical but unseen spiritual powers:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm” (Eph. 6:12-14 NET).
As we see this world near its end, the forces of nature unleash power of heretofore unknown strength, as in the typhoon that struck the Phillipines, wildfires in various places on the globe, strange signs in the skies and meteors striking the earth–these and many more signs of the tremendous power of the natural realm unleashed on mankind can easily cause great alarm among the peoples. But as great as these attacks are, they are not the most threatening dangers we face; it is the forces of darkness that pose the larger threat.
This battle of ours against the powers of darkness that threaten to undo us finds a most illustrative example in the story of Abram rescuing his relative Lot and others from captivity by enemy forces (Gen. 14:11-20). Though this tale is first and foremost a true account of an historical event in our world, it also serves as a beautiful and dramatic allegory of how God uses his power through his human servants to accomplish his plans.
The part of this story that concerns us at the moment occurs after Abram returned from his rescue mission and was met by Melchizedek, the king and high priest of Salem (Gen. 14:18). This is the first time in the Bible that the word priest is used. The Hebrew word for priest means to mediate in religious services. And the book of Hebrews says of this Melchizedek that he is “without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever” (Heb. 7:3 NIV). Because of this, some think that he was the very Son of God himself, in human form before he took the form of Jesus. Whether this is so or not, there still remains a strong similitude between him and the Son of God. For elsewhere this same book says of Jesus:
“The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 8:1 NIV).
“For it is evident that our Lord who has become a priest . . . by the power of an indestructible life” (Heb. 7:14, 16 ESV).
“. . . the power of an indestructible life.” Again, power and eternal life come up as those attributes that signify divinity. Jesus has them; he is God. He is also our priest, one who mediates for us to the Father, just as Melchizedek did for God’s people.
There are other similarities. Melchizedek brought bread and wine to sustain the warriors of Abram back from battle. Jesus did the same for his disciples in instituting Holy Communion (Mt. 26:26-28). God does the same for us, giving us the spiritual nourishment we need for our own battles with all the powers that would destroy us. He does this through our union with his Son, Jesus Christ, who has said:
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (Jn. 6:54, 55 NIV).
There it is yet again, the mention of eternal life, one of the required attributes for God to be God, and an attribute which he imparts to those who believe in his Son–not that they become God (a logical impossibility) but that they become more like him, having eternal life. They become like him, safe from all inner decay into non-existence. This is the reality of real life and real death, not words but power.
“For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Cor. 4:12 RSV).
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7 ESV).
Self-control–another necessary attribute of God for continued existence (discussed in part one.) When we come to Christ as our Savior, he saves us from dissolution, from death. Therefore we no longer need fear non-existence but are given in its place . . . what? According to the passage quoted above from Timothy, we are given power and love and self-control. Power and self-control have already been discussed in this meditation, in part one. It is now time to look at this third aspect of God’s power mentioned here, the power of love.
First it was seen that the power to be is the basic foundation for God, as declared by God himself in his I-AM communion with Moses. Then an examination of the necessity for self-control of infinite power followed. And now we have reached the pinacle of all this power: the power of God displayed in his love for all that he has created.
Scripture says point-blank that God is love (1 Jn. 4:16). What are those qualities that characterize love? 1 Cor. 13, called the love chapter, lists many of them for us, as do other sections of Scripture. But certainly one of the key aspects of love is that it gives, shares. Therefore, if God is love then it naturally follows that he shares, gives. Because he is love, he created human beings so that they could share existence with him. And he brought into existence an entire universe capable of sustaining these beings he brought into existence. Clearly, God values existence.
But raw existence by itself is insufficient for meaning. That is why we see so many in this world searching ardently for some sort of meaning to their lives; they obviously exist but just as obviously they have not yet discovered the reason why they exist. Their lives therefore are a burden to themselves to varying degrees. Some become so burdened with their lack of meaning that they prefer non-existence to existence and seek to end their lives–not knowing that this is impossible. What we call death is simply a transferrence of existing in one state of being, in this world, to existing in another state of being, in the other world, the spiritual.
Once again we see how critically important it is to have a true and accurate worldview. Those who think they can escape the responsibility of existence by killing themselves have a wrong worldview. There is no escaping existence once one has been created by God. For we are his workmanship, and “whatever God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken away from it. God has made it this way, so that men will fear him” (Eccl. 3:14 NET).
We should gratefully accept the wondrous gift of existence from God’s hand. It is marvelous beyond full comprehension. Though surrounded on all sides by powers that seek to destroy us, we are also surrounded by God’s love that protects us. Therefore, we should not fear.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 Jn. 4:8 NIV).
God is love and love shares with others. God has given us the gift of existence and all else that is needed to enjoy that existence and give him glory. And he has done this through his power.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Ptr. 1:3 NIV).
And there are yet more gifts he has given us, given us so that we can share his life and his love with others as we use those gifts to minister to them. 1 Cor. 12 lists some of those gifts, such as miracles and healing:
“He gives to one person the power to perform miracles” (1 Cor. 12:10 TLB) . . . “and to someone else he gives the power to heal the sick” (v. 9).
But even if we should not have these more spectacular gifts, each believer does have gifts from God to be used for his glory. And all these gifts are present only in Christ.
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men'” (Eph. 4:7, 8 NIV).
“This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” (Heb. 2:3, 4 NIV).
Grace apportioned by Christ, gifts distributed by the Spirit–and both given for the glory of God. For it is to this end that all things exist, that God might be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).
“Now there are various kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are various kinds of service, and the same Lord. There are various kinds of workings, but the same God, who works all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the profit of all” (1 Cor. 4-7 WEB).
Now, if a child of God, a believer, should think that he or she has no such gift from the Holy Spirit, no power of God to do any of the more spectacular things mentioned in these passages, let that person cling to this more hidden gift, the gift of a holy life lived in seeming obscurity but which God sees–and so does an unbelieving world:
“They will be won over without a word by the way you live, when they see your pure and reverent conduct. Let your beauty not be external–the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes–but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight” (1 Ptr. 3:1-4 NET).
This is the power of God, that a person in rebellion to him can have his heart changed by the heart of another who once was as he is, a rebellious sinner.
This is the power of God, that he uses such vessels as we are, weak and prone to error and fear, to battle forces and powers much stronger than we are. This makes it clear to all that it is the power of God, not our own, that wins the victory (2 Cor. 4:7). In the strength and power of Christ, we become part of God’s citizen army, those who have “quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Heb. 11:34 KJV).
Then, at the end, when all opposed to God have been put to flight, God will reign supreme in a visible manner, and all who looked forward to that day will rejoice with him and his victory over the powers of darkness which he allowed their allotted time upon earth for his own purposes.
“After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God'” (Rev. 19:1 NIV).
Power belongs to God. Praise God! In Christ, this same power now belongs to us, because we belong to him. Let us use it as God directs for his glory. For we have become the priests of God to minister to a lost world; we are in the line of priests that started with Melchizedek and continued through Christ and now rests upon us in Christ.
“Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father–to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen” (Rev. 1:5, 6 NIV).