I want to think awhile about all those omnis the Bible claims for God and which we believe about Him. God in Omnipotent – all powerful. God calls Himself “Almighty (Genesis17.1), and asks “Is anything too hard for God?” (Genesis 18.14). Luke 1.37 tells us that nothing will be impossible with God, and in Revelation 19.6 we are told that “the Lord God Omnipotent reigns.” God is Omniscient – all knowing. The eyes of the Lord see everywhere (Proverbs 15.3), He knows all we do (Proverbs 5.21), and knows what we will say before we say it (Matthew 6.8). Nary a sparrow falls to the ground without his knowledge (Matthew 10.29). God is Omnipresent –He is everywhere at once. The classic meditation upon this omni is Psalm 139, which includes the line “Where can I go from your presence?” Paul, preaching to the thinkers of Athens says, “In Him we live, and move, and have our being,” (Acts 17.28). Of course these are only a few verses, chosen to service our conversation here – one finds, while reading the Bible, that the omnis of God are omnipresent.
I want to assert two truths in this essay. I feel both are necessary for the survival of our faith. I use “faith” in the personal sense, not in the doctrinal one. I believe that our proper understanding of God’s omnis is necessary for our continued faith that He is, and that He is good.
The first truth is that only God has these omnis. Only God is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere-present. Only God. Satan is not. He is many things – sophisticated, ruthless, deceitful, cowardly – but he isn’t an omni-anything. Let us not so fear his abilities that we cede victory to him. Let us not forget his limitations, our power, and the grace of God. He is only able to do what God allows. Job begins with Satan making a report of his activity to God personally. God is the one who mentions Job, and God sets the rules for Satan’s actions towards him. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 10.13 that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to bear up – and will provide a means of escape as well. In addition to this Satan is a coward. The moment we resist him he flees (James 4.7). Sin, and its influence are ubiquitous, but he is not. Also, he has already been defeated. His failure and his damnation are faits d’accompli (I Corinthians 15.56-57, Matthew 25.41). He is not just a coward, he is a loser.
The second truth is a little more difficult to grasp. “Omni” doesn’t mean “without limits” whether necessary, or imposed. There are things God cannot, does not do – places He will not be. It is impossible for God to lie (Titus 1.2). God does not sin, nor does he tempt anyone to (James 1.13). Hell is a place elsewhere – away from God (Matthew 25.30, 41).
The question we so often ask, and so rarely answer is “Why?” The answer is so rarely found because we have scant information, we are limited in our ability to understand the information we do have, and we rarely bother to get the information available to us straight – a hat trick of ignorance. Usually we seek to know “why” in order to asses and assign blame – not to increase our own understanding. We believe in the omnis of God, and so the person we end up blaming is Him – either because He didn’t do to suit us, or because he allowed Satan to act in a way we disapprove of. When we stand planted firmly in the mire of our own ignorance and blame God we lose faith.
Perhaps we continue in “the faith.” We still attend, participate, give all the right answers, keep all the “thou shalts”, and all the “thou shalt nots” – but that knowledge that God is good, and that we are safe in Him – that faith - goes. So goes hope. So goes love.
What we don’t know is a lot. What we do know is even greater, though, if we are measuring based upon importance. We know we are ignorant, and we know that God loved us first, and gave Himself for us. This is far from omniscience, but it outweighs everything else.