Scriptures and the Power of God

After the Pharisees failed to trap Jesus in his words about paying taxes, their rivals the Sadducees had their turn:

“That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?’

Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’

When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.” ~ Matthew 22:23-33

Sometimes I wonder if we are often in error – even though we may know the Scriptures – because we do not know the power of God. Nor do we even try very hard to comprehend it. So we’re certain about things like:

  • “If a person dies before he’s baptized – even if he’s heard and believed and repented and confessed and is on the way to the church and is killed in a car wreck – he’s lost and forever damned.”

    Really? The God who held the sun still in the sky for a day can’t prevent or delay the death of someone who wants to be immersed into Christ before he can do so? The Son of God who stilled storms and calmed lakes can’t forgive a broken, desperate soul who recognizes His divinity … even if he’s being crucified a few arm’s-lengths away?

  • “If a person doesn’t understand that she is being baptized for the remission of sins, her baptism counts for nothing and she is condemned to an eternity in hell.”

    Oh? The God who knows the number of hairs on our heads and the number of IQ points inside them and the teachings we have been barraged with – for better or worse – by folks with the best of intentions teaching us at our churches … that God can’t credit the belief of such a faithful one (as He did with Abraham) as righteousness … or at least the deep desire for it?

  • “If God is love and is not willing that any should perish, then eventually He will save everyone.”

    Are you sure? Then, the God who obliterated all the evil tenants of the earth in a flood, ordered the herem-extermination of child-sacrificers, and whose Son spoke in no uncertain terms of the fates of those on His left and His right … they were just joshing? That there is only kindness and no severity to those who will not believe? That He is merciful, but not just; loving but not righteous? He doesn’t really have the power to be perfectly both? Because, as I understand it, it is impossible for Him to lie.

We could go on and on. (Many have.) If we did, we would probably still be arguing as much from our ignorance of Scriptures as of the power of God.

But I think we especially underestimate His power.

And that may help explain why we so seldom pray and let Him work through us as powerfully as Paul did:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:20

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12 thoughts on “Scriptures and the Power of God

  1. Grace and mercy are part of the character of God. To whom God extends His mercy and grace it entirely His perogative without regard for our view of how and when He should do it. Boy am I glad!

    Some of what we teach is utter nonsense.

    Thanks for a good post friend.

    Royce

  2. Keith, I don’t grasp exactly what you are trying to say here, it seems that Royce thinks he does.

    “If God is love and is not willing that any should perish, then eventually He will save everyone.”

    As you say God is all powerful, and he could grant forgiveness through his grace to everyone.
    But is that the way of the God of the bible we read about.?

    Let’s take the story of Noah, there is no doubt that God could have saved Noah and his family without any help from Noah. But that is not the way he did it, he told Noah how to save himself from death by avoiding the flood waters. Down to the last detail.
    That is exactly what he did, through Jesus Christ he told man how to save himself from eternal death, when we say God does not require anything of us look at the record, he always has.
    Do you think there were not many, who wanted on that boat,who really believed, but it was to late.

    Oh yeah, we will be judged on the works we do. Without Christ we would all be lost, without the ark we would never have made it to Christ.
    I can’t understand why people keep looking for an easier way, he didn’t make it impossible.

  3. I think you understood what I was trying to say – there is a difference between what God can do and what He says He will do.

    But we shouldn’t draw conclusions about what He will do based only on what He can do.

    And it’s never a good idea to draw conclusions based on the idea that God <>can’t<> do something … or that He <>won’t<> do something that He is free to do.

  4. i feel like your point is a good one but slightly one sided.

    Suppose we found out that, in fact, God *would* condemn the unbaptized you mention? If that seems unfair to us, then whose sense of justice is in error? Ours? or God’s?

    If we can have an erroneous sense of limitation on God’s power, certainly we can also have an erroneous sense that God is limited by what seems right *to us.*

  5. Keith, I guess I did understand, we need to understand what God said he would do, because we don’t know the full power of what he can do. but whatever he does I agree with, like it matters. but I don’t believe our works are ignored in the decision. What do you think would have happened? if Noah had said “Lord we don’t need this big boat,a smaller one will do, why do I have to do all this work,? I know you can replace all these animals” (and we all know he could have)

  6. Right, laymond; we know from < HREF="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=68&chapter=2&verse=5&version=31&context=verse" REL="nofollow">2 Peter 5:31<> that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” – not just a boat-builder. Apparently, God was also asking Noah to warn folks given over to evil of the judgment to come; the flood. God can work around us, but the fact is, He wants to work <>through<> us.

    reborn, I’m just trying to examine the side we so often ignore: God’s power. I don’t want folks to think God won’t do something because He can’t; that somehow they can tie His hands or force Him to obey <>their<> doctrine when it isn’t <>His<>. You ask, “Suppose we found out that, in fact, God *would* condemn the unbaptized you mention?” Then it wouldn’t be for a lack of trying to explain what most folks in churches of Christ believe and why. Would that be unfair of Him to condemn when He has not specifically said in His word that He would?

    The only answer I can have to that is that I trust Him. (< HREF="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=50&chapter=14&verse=1&version=31&context=verse" REL="nofollow">John 14:1<>) Jesus has just said that his disciples should not be troubled, even though He knew they would abandon and disown Him; there were still mansions prepared for them. He could still extend grace to them.

    So I don’t believe that God <>can’t<> forgive a misunderstanding – or incomplete understanding – of what He wants for us if His Son could forgive a sin before it even happened.

  7. i agree we often ignore God’s power, and think that God won’t do something because He can’t (though i’m not sure we’d ever say it so blatantly).

    What i would disagree with (though i’m not sure you state it directly anywhere) is that this is any weightier of a problem than thinking God must do something because *i* think He *should.*

    Sure some people may erroneously think God is unable to save certain classes of people. But is it any better to think that God *must* save that class of people because *i* think He should?

    Some people do defensively ask, “Are you telling me that God would send my sweet, humble grandmother to hell just because she wasn’t baptized?”

    You’re right–some people who are quick to say “yes” have placed human limitations on God’s power.
    But i don’t see how someone quick to say “no” might not be guilty of what amounts to the very same thing.

    What would motivate the question in the first place unless someone thought God *ought* to save their grandmother because she was sweet and humble and thus (in some sense) deserves to be saved (or at least deserves not to go to hell)? But if God doesn’t answer to my conception of power (as you’ve well-stated), then neither must He answer to my conception of justice or fairness.

  8. It seems to me for every rule we have, God has an exception. I think you are right. We have to be slow to judge and grace-filled God who gets to do as He pleases. I am certainly glad of that. I need a God who acts like God, who is mysterious and awesome, not one who fits into my box.

    Thanks for a great post. It got me thinking.

    Dusty Chris

  9. Keith said “God can work around us, but the fact is, He wants to work through us.”

    Keith, any good teacher tests his students, God is the teacher, we are the students.
    We need to learn that.

  10. Keith, thanks for the post.

    It is amazing that they would even try to “trap” Jesus in his words…I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when folks try to “trap” us…

  11. Oh my gosh! I can’t believe I forgot…I missed leaving you a comment here for your “blogiversary”! So sorry this is a couple of weeks late…but 5 great years so far! CONGRATS!!! And THANKS!!! Keep ministering to us…for many more years to come! 🙂 Much love!

  12. How often we have used this statement, “You do not know the scriptures or the power of God” on the ancient Israelite, when it has so much convicting power even for us. Good post.

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