This past Wednesday I asked the question ‘What does God say He is like?’ and then answered that question with one word repeated three times: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’ Today we ask another question about God’s holiness: in what ways do we see the holiness of God most clearly? We see this in the Omni’s.
Omnipresence – when the Latin word ‘omni’ (meaning ‘all’) is paired with our word presence we get the word omnipresence. To say that God is omnipresent is to say God is all-present. 1 Kings 8:27 says heaven and earth can’t contain God. Jeremiah 23:23-24 says God is a God at hand and not far away, that no man can hide in secret places so that God cannot see him. Acts 17:28 says God is not far from any man. The main text to see God’s omnipresence is Psalm 139:7-10 which says, ‘Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.’
That God is all-present in all times and in all places means there is nowhere we can go where God is not. Theologians of church history call this God’s immensity and mean by this word immensity that God transcends all spatial limitations, and yet is present in every point of space with His whole being. So God is both transcendent in that He is outside of time and space, but He is also immanent in that He is ‘a God at hand and not far away’ to each person who has lived, is living, or will ever live.
At this point we must take caution to stay away from the false teaching of pantheism which teaches that God is the substance of all things. We should believe that God is present in all things, but take caution to say that God remains distinct from all things. God is present in the atoms that makeup a tree but God is not a tree, etc. Also God is not equally present in the same sense in all things. He is not present on earth as He now is in heaven, He is not present in animals as He is in man, and He is not present in the wicked as He is in the righteous.
Omniscience – when the Latin word ‘omni’ is paired with our word science (which means knowledge) we get the word omniscience. To say that God is omniscient is to say that God is all-knowing. He is perfect in knowledge, Job 37:16. God fully knows our hearts, 1 Sam. 16:7. God knows the places of our habitations, Acts 17:26. God knows what we need before we pray, Matthew 6:32. God knows when we sit down, when we rise up, He knows our thoughts, motivations, actions, and habits, He is acquainted with all our ways and before a word is on our tongue He knows it altogether, Psalm 139:1-4. Hebrews 4:12-13 says God’s Word searches out the heart of man, into the deepest parts, and knows the thoughts and intentions of all men. The main text to see this is Romans 11:33-36 where Paul is soaring in praise saying, ‘Oh the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever, amen.’
God knows all things. He knows Himself fully, He knows all that comes from Him, He knows all things as that actually come to pass (past, present, future), and knows all things that could have possibly come to pass (past, present, future). He knows the hidden things, the mysteries of Duet. 29:29, He knows the depths of human heart, and His knowledge is the source of all other knowledge on this planet, so much that if something is true, it came from God. Or to say it another way, no knowledge exists apart from God’s knowledge because all truth is God’s truth.
Omnipotence – when the Latin word ‘omni’ is paired with our word potent we get the word omnipotence. To say that God is omnipotent is to say God is all-powerful. Jeremiah 32:27 and Genesis 18:14 say nothing too hard for the Lord. Matthew 3:9 proclaims that God is able. Job 9:12 says no one can turn God’s hand back. Job 42:2 says no purpose of God’s can be thwarted. Matthew 19:26 says with God all things are possible. Romans 1:20 says God’s power is clearly seen from what has been made. Ephesians 1:19 speaks of God’s immeasurable power toward those who believe.
The whole thought of God’s omnipotence is carried into the name the Patriarchs used ‘El Shaddai’ which means God Almighty. So God’s power is tied to God’s might in the name El Shaddai, and throughout the rest of Scripture we see His power portrayed clearly and strongly in both judgment towards the wicked and in grace toward the saints.
Now we should also state that the Bible states there are things God cannot do. For example, Numbers 23:19 says God cannot lie or change His mind, 1 Samuel 15:29 says God cannot regret, 2 Timothy 2:13 says God cannot be unfaithful to His people, Hebrews 6:18 says it is impossible for God to lie, James 1:13 says God cannot be tempted by evil, and James 1:17 says God cannot change or vary. These passages impact our definition of omnipotence, making it more something like this: God is all-powerful, He can do all that His Word says He can do, or perhaps more clearly, God in His power can and does bring to pass all within His holy will that is in accord with His holy nature.
Learn here to rest in His power. I lift my eyes up to the mountains, where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
So to sum up: the one defining characteristic of God is His holiness. God is holy, completely other, unlike no one, 100% unique, incomparable and beautiful, and therefore He is most worthy and of all our praise and devotion. Where do we His otherness the most clearly? We see it in His omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. These Omni’s show how God is able to: create, guide, govern, redeem, rescue, deliver, and defend His people.