The Power Of God

Adapted From A Sermon By

George Burder

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,

Genesis 17:1

Two weeks ago we considered the importance of the knowledge of God. And we saw how this is so vitally important, namely, that we cannot be saved unless we love God and how can we love God unless we know him and something of his perfections? In this and following sermons we will consider some of these qualities as they are graciously revealed to us in the sacred scriptures.

In attempting to display the perfections of God, it is natural to begin with that which first strikes the mind of man when he thinks of a God. Whoever believes that there is a God, must believe that he is a great and powerful being. When the apostle Paul says, that “the invisible things of God” are perceived by the works of his hands, he mentions particularly, “his eternal power.” (Romans 1:20) We cannot conceive of a God without power; nor can we conceive rightly of Jehovah but as a God of infinite power; the Almighty God, as he is called in our text this morning, Genesis 17:1, “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.”

I am God Almighty.

By this name he revealed himself to Abraham, when he appeared to him to confirm the promise that he would become the father of a multitude of nations; a thing that seemed very unlikely from a human perspective: but, to encourage his faith in the promise, he says, “I am God Almighty.” This was enough. Abraham was satisfied: he believed: he waited; and the promise was fulfilled. It will also greatly assist our faith, and promote our devotion, if we receive and retain a solemn conviction that God is a being of infinite power.

Let us consider the evidences of this truth,

I. In the original production of all creatures;

II. In the preservation and government of all creatures; and,

III. In the redemption of sinful man.

I. “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3) They were not merely formed, they were created—they were made out of nothing, the matter of which they were formed was created; for, “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth;” (Genesis 1:1) and these two words, “the heavens and the earth,” include all the countless myriads of creatures and things which fill the universe, and go far beyond the realm of mortals.

God alone can create. Men can build houses and ships, but they must have materials to build them with; but when God made the world, he found no materials to work with; he created the materials themselves, he made the matter of the heavens and the earth; he then framed, or wonderfully and perfectly worked, that created matter into millions of beautiful forms; and, in the space of six days “the heavens and the earth were finished.” (Genesis 2:1) All God’s works are finished works; they will stand up to the closest scrutiny, and when most examined, will be most admired; they are the work of the Almighty God.

It is in this that he is distinguished from all false and pretended gods. “All the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” (Psalm 96:5) —“For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18) “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.” (Jeremiah 10:11)

The limitations of a short sermon will not allow an in depth description of the creation. We can refer but to a few particulars.

Observe the power of God in the greatness of some bodies, and in the smallness of others.

The earth, which we inhabit, is thirteen thousand kilometres in diameter but what is this to the body of the sun with a diameter of over one million kilometers, and one hundred and fifty millions kilometers distant from it? And even the closest stars, Proxima Centauri, is so distant that it takes over four years for its light to reach us. But what is this to what is currently believed to be the furthest observed star which is so distant that its light has to travel over twelve billion years to reach us.

The smallness of many creatures is as surprising as the greatness of others. There are living creatures so very small, that many thousands of them may be contained in the bulk of a single drop of water. These all proclaim, with a loud voice, the almighty power of God; they constrain us to cry out, in the words of the prophet, “Ah, 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) They oblige us also to exclaim, in the language of the psalmist, “Lord, what is man that you are mindful of him!” (Psalm 8:4) But this condescension of the Almighty God will perhaps appear more wonderful, when we consider. in the second place,

II. The power of God, as it is displayed in the preservation and government of his creatures.

The whole system is preserved in its beautiful order by the same almighty hand which gave it being. “He upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3) The planets, those vast bodies, revolve in their appointed orbits with the most minute exactness, as is evident from the preciseness with which eclipses and other wonders of the heavens are calculated. The earth, for instance, performs its annual revolution in three hundred and sixty-five days, five hours, and fifty nine minutes, and 16 seconds with only minute changes in thousands of years.

The moon also faithfully attends the earth, and brightens up our dark nights. The various seasons succeed each other in their appointed order; and, according to the divine promise, “seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night” (Genesis 8:22) continue to this day. The great and wide sea, whose waves roar and threaten to overwhelm the earth, is kept by the power of its Maker within its proper limits: and shall we not fear him who has “placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it!” (Jeremiah 5: 22)

Mark the display of the same almighty power in making constant provision for the vast family of the universe. All the innumerable tribes of beings which inhabit the air, the earth, and the water, “These all look to God, to give them their food in due season. When he gives it to them, they gather it up; when he opens his hand, they are filled with good things.” (Psalm 104:27, 28)

The continuance, from age to age, of the various orders of animals, beasts, birds, fishes, insects; and all the multitudes of trees, plants, and flowers, must be ascribed to the same almighty power. How remarkable is the uniform proportion of males and females in all creatures. How remarkably balanced are all the systems in nature, the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the oxygen cycle to name a few.

Th moral government of God is still more wonderful. To his power in restraining evil spirits we owe much of our safety and comfort. His power in restraining wicked men has been demonstrated throughout history. Bad as the world is today, it would be infinitely worse if God did not withhold bad men from fulfilling all their purposes; but all hearts are in his hand. He that restrains the raging waves of the sea, subdues also the madness of the people. In the words of the psalmist, “The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty.” (Psalm 93:3,4)

The power of God was most wonderfully displayed in ancient times in the miracles which were wrought for wise and great purposes. He who gave laws to nature, can suspend or reverse them if he thinks fit. Once he permitted the waters to cover the whole earth, and drown its guilty inhabitants; again, he restrained the floods and caused them to recede. By a train of most wonderful works he rescued Israel from the yoke of Egypt, formed a path for them through the Red Sea, and sustained them for forty years in the wilderness. When he commands, waters shall not drown, fire shall not consume, lions shall not devour. The miracles of Christ exceeded all others, for he was power itself in a human form. “The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” (Matthew 11:5) Now in that Gospel, so confirmed, we will find the grandest displays of divine power, and those in which we are most concerned. We move on then, in the third place, to consider,

III. The power of God, as it shines in the redemption of sinful men by Jesus Christ.

Observe this power in the person of the great Redeemer. The production of his human nature, in the womb of the Virgin, is ascribed to “the power of the Most High,” (Luke 1:35) that is, of the Holy Spirit; in consequence of which, though he was “born of a woman,” (Galatians 4:4) and made “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” (Romans 8:3) his nature was without sin, and “that holy offspring” which was born, was the pure and immaculate Son of God. Wonderful was the power which preserved him from his cruel and implacable enemies, for he constantly endured the opposition of men and devils; nor could any of his adversaries prevail against him, until “his hour had come;” (John 13:10) that appointed hour when, “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,” they “crucified and killed” the Lord of glory “by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:23) Nor could death itself detain the Lord of life; he shattered the doors of the grave, (Psalm 107:16) and by his resurrection, more than by all that went before, he was “declared to be the Son of God with power.” (Romans 1:4)

When we consider the first planting of our holy religion in the world, by instruments so feeble, and notwithstanding obstacles so great, we will see with how appropriately the Gospel is said to be “the power of God for salvation.” (Romans 1:16) The apostles were plain men, who had been under the instruction of Christ for three or four years, and were well qualified to teach mankind; but they had not the benefit of learning, the eloquence of orators, nor the authority of the magistrate. They had to encounter the deeply rooted prejudices of the Jews; the superstition, idolatry, hatred, and vices of the heathen; the customs of the world, the laws of nations, and the interests of priests, aided by all the malice, cunning, and cruelty of the great destroyer, whose kingdom and influence among men the Gospel was intended to destroy.

But they went out in the name of Jesus, filled with his love, inspired by his Spirit, animated by his promise, and the weapons of their warfare, altogether spiritual, had “divine power to destroy strongholds” of the devil; (2 Corinthians 10:4) even in Jerusalem, where Christ was crucified, many thousands were converted to him. In Caesarea, in Antioch, in Corinth, in Ephesus, in Alexandria, and even in Rome, Christian churches were formed; the altars of the idols were abandoned; and the Gospel triumphed over millions of souls!

But it concerns us most of all to trace the effects of divine power in the application of the Gospel to the heart; without which, its publication to the world, and its preservation to this day, will do nothing for our personal salvation.

The Gospel is designed to produce a great inward change. The corruption of our nature makes this change absolutely necessary; and it is a change so great, as to be called in Scripture “a new creation;” (2 Corinthians 5:17) this, of course, can be brought about only by the power of God, and therefore, true converts “will offer themselves freely on the day of his power.” (Psalm 110:3)

The mind of man, in his natural state is in darkness, unaware of the way of salvation through faith in Christ, and frequently contentedly ignorant; indeed and sadly, wilfully ignorant; for there is an unhappy aversion to the truth, a strong prejudice against it, insomuch that many persons “love the darkness rather than the light.” (John 3:19)

There is a strange dislike of private religion—the reading of the Bible, and prayer; while in some persons there is a strong attachment to vanity, to gaiety, to a constant succession pf amusements and diversions; in others, vicious habits are formed, and wilful sins indulged. Some are profane, and venture without fear of the threatened punishment to take the holy name of God in vain, perhaps to utter curses on themselves or others. Some, in open defiance of divine authority, neglect to meet together, turn their backs on their Maker, and prove that they do not love him by preferring their earthly pleasures to his service and worship, to the utter neglect of their souls and salvation. Others launch out still further into the ocean of vice, and plunge themselves into guilty pleasures and foul vices to which God has attached everlasting punishment. The multitude among us, it may be feared, forget God; they live without God in the world; and their hearts are as far from him as those of the Pagans themselves.

Taking this view of things, we may well consider, as the prophet was asked, “Can these dry bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3) Can these careless souls become diligent disciples of Christ? Can their love of vanity be cured? “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots!” (Jeremiah 13:23) Can the habits of profaneness, of drunkenness, of uncleanness, be tamed? Can these vain and worldly people be so changed, that they may love what they once hated, and hate what they once loved? Can they become pure, pious, spiritual, humble, zealous followers of the Lamb? Can they be induced to resist the claims of self-interest, and endure the scornful smile, the harsh insults, and the cruel mockings of frivolous companions and displeased relatives!—Yes. All this has been done, and may be done again. Does this seem impossible with men? All things are possible, for God, “who said, Let light shine out of darkness,” and who “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) And the Gospel, with the energy of the Holy Spirit, “destroys arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and takes every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

But,” it may be asked by a penitent sinner, “can an offender so guilty and vile be pardoned, and received into divine favor? Can crimes like mine be blotted out, and forgotten?” Yes, The Son of Man when on earth had power to forgive sins: nor has he less power in heaven; he has power to give eternal life to all who are given to him; and as he never rejected a penitent sinner when he lived among men, neither will he now; for he is “exalted ... to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins,” (Acts 5:31) and he has graciously said, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)

Let us contemplate one more example of divine power. When Moses saw a bush on fire, and yet it was not consumed, he turned aside to behold it with admiration. In that burning bush he beheld the emblem of Israel afflicted in Egypt, yet not destroyed; and we may perceive in it an emblem of a true Christian, “guarded by God's power through faith for salvation.” (1 Peter 1:5) And what but the power of God is sufficient for this purpose?

If you consider what a dangerous world we live in, where iniquity abounds, where prosperity presents a thousand snares, and adversity a thousand temptations; when you remember that Satan, “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour:” (1 Peter 5:8) and, above all, when you recollect that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick,” (Jeremiah 17:9) you will rejoice to think that the great and good shepherd of the flock has said of his sheep, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28) In that almighty hand the believer is safe; He “is able to keep you from stumbling;” (Jude 1:24) to “guard until that day what has been entrusted to us;” (2 Timothy 1:12) to support us under all the trials of life; to comfort our souls in the hour of death; and to complete the whole redemption at the last day—when he “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:21)


What then shall we say to these things? What use shall we make of our meditations on the almighty power of God? Let him be adored; let him be feared; let him be trusted.

Let him be adored. He, and he alone, is the proper object of religious worship. Observe and admire his power wherever you see it; and where can you look without seeing it? Wisdom and power among men command our respect; we reverence the wise and the mighty; and shall we not reverence and adore Him, who is infinite in wisdom, and almighty in power! We admire the leaders of this world, mortal as they are, who command numerous armies, govern extensive empires, conquer powerful enemies, and preserve their own people in peace; should we not then admire and adore the Lord of Hosts, who rules among the armies of heaven, and over the inhabitants of the earth; whose wisdom none can fathom, whose power none can resist? Yes, “You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice.” (2 Kings 17:36) Adore and praise him, and say, with the heavenly worshippers who bow before his throne, and cast their crowns at his feet, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

Let this Almighty God be feared. Do not fear man, who can do nothing but what he is permitted to do. “Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do,” said our Savior, “but I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” (Luke 12:5) What foolishness and madness possesses the hearts of men, who dare rebel against him, break his commandments, abuse his goodness, defy his anger, and neglect his salvation!

The almighty power of God makes the thoughts of his being our enemy unsupportably terrible. He who has “revealed his wrath from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” (Romans 1:18) is able at any time, and by any means, to execute his threatenings for “he who executes his word is powerful.” (Joel 2:11) If he is pleased to give commission to thunders and lightnings, to storms and tempests, to earthquakes or plagues, floods and fires, to destroy his enemies, who can “stay his hand,” (Daniel 4:35) or restrain his power? Consider “who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded?” (Job 9:4) “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest he tear you apart, and there be none to deliver.” (Psalm 50:22) Consider this, poor sinner, “can your heart endure, or can your hands be strong in the days that he will deal with you?” (Ezekiel 22:14) or, is there anyone “who can deliver out of his hand?” (Isaiah 43:13) Be wise now, therefore; be instructed, submit at once; and seek his pardoning mercy through Christ, “lest he be angry, and you perish in the way.” (Psalm 2:12) But, finally,

Blessed are they that put their trust in him.” Yes, “trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:4) What can he not do, who is almighty! “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” (Jeremiah 32:27) Imitate the faith of Abraham, who could rest in the power of God, when probabilities were all against him, being “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:21) Accordingly the noble confessors in Daniel’s time were courageous for Jehovah, being assured that the God whom they served was able to preserve them, even in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace.

Our faith should bear some proportion to its object. How inconsistent is a strong God and weak faith! When our Savior was about to exert his miraculous power in healing, he proposed this question, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28) So should we ask ourselves when we desire anything from God. Do I believe that God is able to fulfill my request?

Faith will be feeble, and prayer will be lifeless, if the power of God is forgotten; and be encouraged by reflecting upon the fact that the exercise of almighty power is entrusted into the hands of Jesus Christ. He has “all authority in heaven and on earth;” (Matthew 28:18) he is therefore “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him.” (Hebrews 7:25) His blood is so effective, that it can cleanse from the utmost possible degree of guilt; his grace so powerful, that it can rescue from the utmost power of sin; he can save to the utmost extent of our wishes and capacities, to the utmost period of life; indeed, he can and will continue to bless his people throughout all the ages of eternity.

Therefore do not be afraid to trust him. Venture on him; he is the rock of ages. Cast your souls, your sins, your burdens on the Savior. Hear what the scriptures say: “Trust in him at all times, O people.” (Psalm 62:8) “When you are afraid, put your trust in him.” (Psalm 56:3) “seek God, and to God ... commit your cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvellous things without number:” (Job 5:8-9) “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to him,” (Philippians 4:6) encouraged by this declaration, that he “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. ” (Ephesians 3:21)