Lesson 2: The Greatness of God | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 2: The Greatness of God

Learning Together

God’s character qualities are commonly called His attributes . [An attribute is a basic quality or description. ] They are the properties that make God who He is. Some theologians logically divide the attributes of God into two categories: the attributes of His greatness and the attributes of His goodness .

This lesson deals with God’s attributes of greatness. These are character qualities that belong to God alone; they cannot be shared with mankind.

God’s primary attribute of greatness is His infinity . This word is hard for us to grasp because we are human and, thus, limited. When we say that God is infinite, we mean that He has no external limitations. In other words, there is nothing outside of Himself that determines who He is and what He does . Only created objects and beings have external limitations. God’s attributes of greatness are simply expressions of His infinity. Three of these attributes that are absolutely necessary to further studies in BFL are discussed below. In this lesson, we will learn:

1. God is infinite in power .

2. God is infinite in knowledge .

3. God is infinite in authority .

I. God is Infinite in Power.

The fact that God is unlimited in power is the attribute called omnipotence (from omni, meaning “ all ,” and potent,

meaning “ powerful “). God’s omnipotence is displayed in several ways:

A. Creation most clearly displays God’s omnipotence.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.   Psalm 33:6 9

[C.f. also Jer 32:17]

Note: God created the universe out of nothing ( ex nihilo ), not from preexisting materials.

[How is this different from when we create something? We use existing materials. God didn’t. Einstein proved the interchangablility of energy and matter (E=MC2). If the whole universe was created by God, what does this say about God’s power/energy? It’s immense. See also Col 1:16-17: God’s power keeps things together. ]

B. God’s control of history displays His omnipotence.

[History is going somewhere. That is, what happens is not random, chance occurrence. God rules in world events. Things happen because God has decreed that they will happen.]

One way God controls history is by governing the decisions of world leaders.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases. – Proverbs 21:1

For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.   Revelation 17:17

[Note that these verses show that God can and does control the thoughts of people. ]

C. The outworking of God’s plan for individuals displays His omnipotence.

Job questioned the justice of God because of the difficulties he had endured. In response, God revealed His greatness to Job (Job 38 41). Notice Job’s response:

I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. – Job 42:2

It is often said, “God can do anything.” This is not technically correct. For example, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Rather, omnipotence means that God can do anything consistent with His character .

[One’s activities are generally dictated by one’s nature. E.g., you don’t expect a dog to act like a cat. E.g., there are some things that girls like (such as pretty dresses) that do not interest boys. You would not expect a boy to be interested in or drawn toward certain things, and same with girls. In a similar way, God is “limited” by the kind of person He is. His nature determines what He will do.]

II. God is Infinite in Knowledge.

The fact that God is without limits in knowledge is referred to as His omniscience (from omni, meaning “ all ,” and science, meaning “ knowledge “).

For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.   1 John 3:20

[C.f. also John 21:17]

What does this imply?

A. God possesses complete knowledge of the universe .

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.   Psalm 147:4

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.   Hebrews 4:13

[There is nothing that happens in the universe that is outside the knowledge and control of God.]

B. God possesses knowledge of the smallest details of life.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.   Matthew 10:30

[C.f. also Psm 139:1-4]

C. God possesses knowledge of possible events . He knows everything that might have been.

Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.   Matthew 11:21

[C.f. also 1 Sam 23:10-13]

These three points show that God has always known all things, past , present, and future , at the same time. God has never learned anything.

[Just think: God knew and planned from eternity past that we would all be here doing this right now. God is never surprised. He never wonders why things happen. Contra the “openness of God” idea which asserts that God really doesn’t know what’s going to happen because men have a totally free will. ]

D. God’s knowledge is active , not passive . This means that God’s knowledge of an event is not gained through observation , but through involvement. He knows an event because He planned it and participates in it.

The biblical word for this active aspect of God’s knowledge is “ foreknowledge.”

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.   Matthew 10:29

Notice this prayer of Peter and John:

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.   Acts 4:27 28

[“Foreknowledge” is not simply “knowledge ahead of time.” Notice the above verse. What happened happened because God chose that it should be that way. God does not look into the future, see what will happen, and then react based on what He sees. God’s foreknowledge is His active choice of a particular course of action. See Rom 11:2. “Foreknew” means “chose.”]

III. God is Infinite in Authority.

The fact that God’s authority over all creation is without limits is referred to as His sovereignty .

[“Sovereignty” basically means “control.” “Sove” = all, “reign” = to rule. A king is called a sovereign, so when you think of sovereignty, think of a king being in charge or in control.]

What does the sovereignty of God imply?

A. God is in control of all things .

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.   Romans 8:28

[C.f. also 1 Chron 29:11-12; Ps 22:28, 103:19]

B. God is never dependent on man.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.   Romans 11:33 36

God’s sovereignty means that He is totally independent in all His decisions. He is never influenced or manipulated by His creation. He never depends on the actions of men to determine His actions.

[What implications does this have for prayer? It means that we don’t change God’s mind when we pray. God does what He planned on doing. He often accomplishes that plan in conjunction with our prayers. So what’s wrong with the statement “Prayer moves the hand that moves the universe”? It conveys the idea that God’s actions are determined by people. God may fulfill His purposes in conjunction with our prayers, but He does not depend on them to act.]

C. God does whatever pleases Him.

I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.   Isaiah 46:9 10

[C.f. also Ps 115:3; Dan 4:35]

D. Whatever God does is always right .

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, `Why did you make me like this?'” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?   Romans 9:20 21

God’s sovereignty means that all that He does is right . His actions are not right because they conform to a standard of right and wrong . He is the standard of right and wrong.

[If the above is true, and if God is in charge of all that is done in the universe, why does it seem that so much evil abounds? 2 reasons (there are others):

  1. The world is a fallen, sin-cursed place (cf. Gen 3). Sin/the curse ruins things and brings about much of the wrong in the world.

2. Men often suffer the consequences of their own evil or stupid decisions/actions. E.g., robing a bank leads to jail time. Gal 6:7-8.

The Bible teaches the seemingly contradictory truth that God is sovereign, yet man is responsible. It would seem that if God is in control of all events, man could not be held responsible for his actions, for he is only doing what God makes him do. Yet the Bible clearly teaches that man is responsible for his actions and that God is not the author of sin.

C.H. Spurgeon writes: “Shall we never be able to drive into men’s minds

the truth that predestination and free agency are both facts? Men sin as

freely as birds fly in the air, and they are altogether responsible for

their sin; and yet everything is ordained and foreseen of God. The

fore-ordination of God in no degree interferes with the responsibility of

man. I have often been asked by persons to reconcile the two truths. My

only reply is – They need no reconciliation, for they never fell out.

why should I try to reconcile two friends?” (C.H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan

Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol.33, Banner of Truth Trust, 1969 reprint, pp


Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. God is omnipotent, or all-powerful. His power is unlimited.

2. God is omniscient, or all-knowing. His knowledge is unlimited.

3. God is sovereign. His authority is unlimited.

Learning to Live It

1. In Lesson One, we learned that God is a person; therefore, we can and should pray. Suppose you have an unsaved friend who asks you to go fishing next Thursday. It is just the opportunity you have been looking for  a full day alone to discuss his relationship with God. So, you pray that the Lord will grant good weather next Thursday so you can have this opportunity. What does God have to do to answer your prayer?

arrange the world’s weather, arrange the friend’s schedule, allow you to make it safely to the lake, make an opportunity to naturally present the gospel, etc.

Therefore, prayer presupposes which attribute of God discussed in this lesson?

His omnipotence (and sovereignty)

Suppose Thursday comes and it rains all day. What might you conclude about your prayer?

that it was not in accordance with God’s sovereign will. You could conclude that God did not answer, or that He doesn’t care, etc. You should conclude that God is still in control of the situation. Your plan did not fit the divine plan.

2. Suppose some tragedy strikes your family. Is God in control of the situation? yes

Is it possible you may not understand why God allowed this to occur?

Yes, in fact it is very likely you won’t totally understand why many things happen.

What should be your response if you don’t understand why?

Trust Him. Remember, He is too loving to be unkind and too wise to make mistakes. Also, remember that God is able to do anything, and that He is in control of the situation. Trust that God is good, wise, and loving, and that there is a reason/purpose for the situation.




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