The Omnis of God
by Bob Burridge ©2019
Three “omnis” are ascribed to God in the Bible. As Creator of the entire universe and all that’s in it, God is “omnipotent”, “omniscient”, and “omnipresent”.
The Merrium Webster Dictionary defines the prefix “omni-” as meaning “all, universality”. These terms mean that God is “All Powerful”, “All Knowing”, and “Everywhere Present”. They are each clearly taught in Scripture. To deny any one of them is to deny the God of Scripture. Our understanding of God must reflect these attributes as they apply to all God is, does, and promises.
1. Omnipotence: God is all-powerful. There is nothing that has power over the God who made everything. This is stated directly in many places all through the Bible. It’s summarized in the verses quoted below.
Psalm 135:5-6, “For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.”
Proverbs 16:4, “The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. ”
Acts 17:26, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,”
The omnipotence of God even extends to his ability to redeem the lost souls of all he intends to make his beloved Children in Christ. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that enables the soul to recognize it’s need for salvation from God’s judgment and to sincerely trust in the Savior. Left to his own abilities no one is able to do these things. When God moves in the lost heart, the person is given that saving faith and will come to Christ fulfilling God’s gracious plan for his life.
John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
John 6:44-47 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me– not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”
Romans 3:10-12, “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’ ”
If God is totally sovereign and always able to do whatever he desires to do, do humans have a “free will”? That depends upon what is meant by “free will”. If God is really all powerful it can’t mean that our decisions can frustrate what God wants to happen. Our will is totally free in that we are free to do whatever our desires move us to do. However, since God controlls all that happens, he shapes the events in our lives and the disposition of our hearts so that our desires will cause us to freely choose to do what God desires us to do in any situation.
Therefore we conclude:
– God orchestrates all the circumstances and infallibly influences how each person perceives and understands them.
– No one is ever forced to do something he doesn’t freely choose to do.
– A person freely chooses what is the most compelling choice at the moment.
– God never makes someone choose to sin when he doesn’t truly desire to commit that sin.
– The unredeemed soul isn’t on its own, in its fallen nature, able to sincerely and knowingly choose to do what God has commanded, and to do it for the right reason, that is: for the glory of God.
– People are never compelled to come repentantly to Christ by faith against their will. They come most freely as God transforms their souls and puts the desire and true faith in their hearts by saving grace.
2. Omniscience: The Bible makes it clear that God is all-knowing. He knows all things all the time, including what’s yet to happen. There can’t be any surprises for him. Jesus explained in Luke 12:6-7, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” In Acts 15:13-17a James explained how the prophets of the Old Testament were made able to predict how God’s plan would unfold in history. Then in Act 15:17b-18 he continued and said, “… says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.’ ”
God is unchanging. James 1:17 referres to God as “… the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” God doesn’t get new information or new insights.
Nothing else existed when God’s plan was already fully formed. His eternal plan couldn’t have been formed by advice or input from anything or anyone other than himself since there was nothing else then. He has always known all things as they are and ever will be. Psalm 33:11 tells us, “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.”
In Acts 2:23 Peter told those gathered on the day of Pentecost about God’s plan in the crucifixion of Jesus. There the Apostle said, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” It was all in God’s plan to redeem his people which displays his amazing redeeming grace and his power over evil.
The redeeming of each person who comes to Christ for salvation was ordained by God from all eternity. This is stated very directly in many Bible passages. This is summarized welll in these New Testament verses:
Romans 8:29, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.’
Ephesians s1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,”
Romans 11:2, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew…”
Some try to get around the plain meaning of these passages by modifying what’s meant by God’s “foreknowledge”. They imagine God basing his plan upon what he saw would happen in the future. That can’t possibly be what those verses are talking about. It makes no sense to think that that the Eternal Unchangeable God looked ahead to see what his creatures would do if he didn’t decree their actions, then he decreed them from all eternity based on what he saw looking into the future. This means that his decree was to make happen what would happen if he didn’t decree it. The mind that wants to be independent of a Sovereign God can accept such self-contradictory ideas.
The word foreknowledge simply tells us that God knows with certainty before hand exactly how his plan will unfold. The Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 3, section 2 explains this when it says, “Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, …”
God doesn’t decide what to do based on what we would do if left to ourselves. The Creator isn’t the slave of the creatures who make up history as they decide things. The Bible says it’s the other way around. Those who move history are first of all moved by God. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (see the article “God’s Use of the Ungodly” based on Habakkuk 1:5-11)
As Jesus taught us, even our prayers are to be presented humbly. We say, “Thy will be done …” We do not say, “God, you have your plan, but please change your mind and do it my way. It’s better.”
If God knows all that will happen, and is more powerful than everything that can effect what will happen, God must have a plan and purpose in all that happens and is totally sovereign. Of course we as mere finite creatures can’t know all that’s eternally known in the infinite mind of God, therefore we must do what God tells us to do and believe what he tells us is true regardless of our full underestanding of how it all fits together. We are told in Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
3. Omnipresence: God is all-together everywhere all the time. Though God at times shows himself by means of some physical manifestations in specific places, his entire being permeates all of space continually. The theological term for this is “Ubiquity”. Psalm 139:7-9 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”
Since we live in this physical world, we understand “space” in terms of measurable places. Since God is spirit, the idea of how he operates in what we call “space” takes on a different meaning than our finite minds are able to comprehend. In those far off galaxies, many of which we have not yet detected, God is entirely there. He sustains the atoms and subatomic particles of which they are made. He forms and upholds the gravitational fields surrounding the stars and planets. He guides the radiation streaming through the space between those cosmic bodies.
God has often revealed his glory to individuals in specific places for special purposes. His presence was seen by Moses in the burning bush. His glory was manifested in the ancient Tabernacle. There are other events described in Scripture where something of God was displayed in a physical way. The Holy Spirit is often said to “fill” someone with his special presence, or to enter a person’s heart, but it doesn’t mean he was physically absent before that. It means that he specially revealed his presence and operations in that place at a particular time. These events don’t isolate God’s presence to those places. Though he shows himself here and there, he is in his whole being present everywhere always.
When we enter into God’s special presence when the church is gathered in worship, we should not imagine that outside the sanctuary God is not there just as much as inside where we gathered as a congregation. But in that time of assembled worship God is present with his people in a special way as each person directs his thoughts and attention to the wonders and promises of their Creator and Savior. Since God is always everywhere, nothing is done that is not done directly in his presence.
We ought to work on being conscious of the Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence of the one by whom and for whom everything was made. It should renew our sense of awe as we realize the reality that surrounds us and of which we are a part. It’s a reality that centers on the glory of our Creator, Sustainer, and Good Shepherd to those who are his by grace.
(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)