Why Limit God’s Unlimited Power?

Why Limit God’s Unlimited Power? June 18, 2024
Rendered in DALL-E with the prompt, “Almighty’s Autocratic Omnipotence.” For Patheos.

Take the Limits Off Of God

“Take the limits off of God” is a common refrain heard from many Pentecostal and Charismatic pulpits, typically to a church congregation encouraged to see God’s ability beyond what they perceive. Now, it goes without saying this is still needed today. Every now and then, we need a refresher on the Almighty’s autocratic omnipotence. We must recall the power of God is unlimited in its correspondence to the person of God. That is, God doesn’t operate outside his character or attributes. His power can never be considered unholy, sinful, or deceitful to believers because it would be contrary to the nature of the God displaying it. Therefore, by virtue of his nature and power, God is worthy of trust and deserving of faith and is far more capable of doing things in miraculous ways beyond what we can ask or think.

The question remains: Why do some doubt God’s power? Why impose limitations upon the Unlimited One? I propose a few possibilities: #1, Lack of knowledge concerning God’s abilities; #2, Seeing those abilities as historically distant; and finally, #3, Projecting our limitations upon him.

  • #1 When was the last time you questioned your knowledge of God and His abilities? I’m quite aware of the books that detail his abounding might or strategic prowess, but how well are we acquainted with the Lord God Almighty? We shouldn’t let this question blow over our heads because even the children of Israel, after seeing God’s miraculous display of power at the Red Sea, pillars of clouds and fires through the wilderness, water, manna, and quail later inquired if God could prepare a table in the wilderness (Psalm 78:19). For the children of Israel, whatever the Lord did wasn’t enough to convince them that he could do the next thing. So, it is a valid question: what do you know concerning God’s abilities? When was the last time you journeyed through the Word of God to build up and establish your faith further in what God revealed he could do? How often do you lean upon the testimonies of the great saints in the Scriptures when considering your limitations or adverse situations? Are you aware of the fact that as his child, the Lord God wants to perform his mighty works in your life as well? If we knew God as he revealed himself, we’d have plenty of testaments to his power, and we needn’t wonder about his ability.

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Ignorance isn’t really bliss in living for the Lord. God encourages believers to take time to learn and understand his ways. God knows, as stated in Daniel 11:32, that “they that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.” However, this confidence comes on the other side of ignorance, where we know God in a more excellent way based on his word. As believers, we will never get to the state where we won’t benefit from a refresher course on God and his power. We benefit significantly as we come to know God as he has revealed himself. We can face life’s varying situations with more fortitude and perseverance because we’re aware that, though we’re limited, our sufficiency is of God. Take time, then, to know God. Familiarize yourself with his deeds and mighty works! This isn’t anything different from what David did as shepherd and king of Israel. He says, “God, you have taught me from my youth, and I still proclaim your wonderful works.” Psalms 71:17 And elsewhere David declares, “I will speak of Your splendor and glorious majesty and Your wonderful works.” Psalms 145:5 For David, having attendants and an army at his disposal is not what brought him comfort, joy, or security; it was knowing the strength of God through telling of his mighty works that calmed his fears and soothed his nerves. Child of God, I believe we too can feel safely guarded, knowing we have a God on our side who can defend us, as demonstrated by his mighty works throughout history.

  • #2 Speaking of history, we must be careful that in knowing what God has done, we don’t view his power as something that was only done “a long time ago” and is not available to be relied upon now. If we’re not careful while reading the great and wondrous works performed by God in yesteryear, we’ll start viewing God’s Holy Writ with the same vantage point from which we read fairy tales or fiction novels. Conveyed in our mind are some details of ancient activity that are so far removed from today that we don’t believe it is possible in modern times. Sadly, some more readily suspend belief in magic carpets but struggle to have faith in the miraculous. However, this is a direct contradiction of the declaration in Hebrews 13:8, which says, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever,” as well as the announcement made by the prophet Malachi, “For I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal 3:6). In both texts, we see a resounding display of God’s immutability or unchangeableness. It is precisely this characteristic that spurs me to continued faith amid trial or despair. I’m prompted to trust God and His ability as I read the Scriptures because He does not change.

God Is Faithful

“God is faithful,” states the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:13. His faithfulness to His word and promises, as confirmed by the workings of His mighty hands, becomes the foundation of my faith today as I live in the 21st century. Times, seasons, and trends may have changed, but God remains the same, demonstrated by His revelation and display of power throughout the Scriptures. Yes, many of the tremendous events in Scripture happened a long time ago, but still, the God we serve is a God of today, a God of now that beckons us to believe in Him today as our patriarchs Abraham, Moses, and David did. Similarly, we’ll find Him as capable today as exhibited yesterday, regardless of how long ago yesterday was.

  • #3 Finally, as saints, we must learn not to project our limitations upon God as if He’s subject to the same conditions that we’re in. What kind of insult is it to impose restrictions upon someone illimitable in ability and competence? Perhaps you confess your faith in God often, and maybe that too is upon general principle. We know it’s right to trust God, but how often do we doubt God through altering and reimagining His power based on our understanding and strength? God’s mind and strength are well beyond our comprehension. Therefore, it’s possible to grieve God when we impose our weakness upon Him. Unfortunately, we have testimony of this predicament in the Scriptures. Psalm 78:40-41 states, “How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.” Suppose we recall some displays of wonder the Israelites saw in their journeying in the wilderness. We’d see that after escaping from captivity, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Neh 9:19) led them into the wilderness. When the nation was thirsty, God provided water from a rock, and when hungry, manna or bread from the heavens (Psa 78:20, 24). Afterward, when they grew tired of the water and manna, they requested meat for their stomachs, and the Lord flew the meat to their camp in the desert. (Psalm 78:27-29). Throughout this brandishing of provision and protection, the young nation still doubted if God could do the next thing they needed, and this grieved God.

Many Of Us Are Guilty

Possibly, you and I don’t question God to this extreme. However, many of us are guilty of relegating God to performing what we need based on our understanding or in the way we would’ve done it. This is a peculiar way of doubting God because we either place ourselves in the stead of God and wonder why God hasn’t moved the way we believe He should have, or maybe worse, we’ll hold God to a schedule like a director in a play, and when God delays in action, we act as if He’s missed His queue. A strange way of doubting, indeed! If God doesn’t perform according to our fancies, we pout and give entrance to the tempter to make us question believing God for anything. How odd to be a Christian and a cynic of God simultaneously! In dilemmas like these, we can find solace in the Scriptures and, in them, the recourse needed to sustain correct reliance upon God.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Herein, the Lord reminds us of our deficiency and why we should trust our lives in His capable hands. But it’s not only our inability that’s emphasized; it’s also the fact that God doesn’t do things our way nor functions in a way we’d normally consider. However, it is this truth that encourages us to remove any limitations placed on Him because in doing so, we’ll find God efficient in taking care of our needs even if He has to do “exceeding abundantly, above all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). Don’t prohibit how God wants to perform in your life; take the limits off and watch Him make a way out of no way.

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