“For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”This is the central truth concerning God and all power, and he inspired and moved his chosen servant Paul to write it. With all Scripture it was written for our learning, for instruction in righteousness. This truth of God is absolute, unlimited and universal; it includes all power, authority and dominion in all places, all things and all creatures, in all the limitless universe of God. In all boundless space, wherever any being, creature or thing is, whether animate or inanimate, earth, sun, moon or stars, man or beast, spirit, angel or devil, God is there and everywhere, the omnipotent Creator of all. Nothing, either great or small, could exist without God.
“The powers that be are ordained of God.” Paul said this of the wicked and oppressive Roman powers or rulers. So Paul quotes what God said to the wicked ruler, Pharaoh: “Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” This purpose of God in raising up this heathen king was fulfilled, and the just and awful majesty of God was declared. So it will be declared in his supreme power and dominion over all the world, and his righteous judgments against all ungodly and wicked rulers. The psalmist therefore says, “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” Solomon also said, “The Lord hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” King David recognized this truth in his prayer, saying, “Arise, O Lord, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword: from men which are thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life.” When Pilate threatened Jesus with his power to either crucify or release him, the God-honoring answer was, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” This establishes the text: “There is no power but of God.” In this truth is the protection and safety of every child of God. Satan could not kill Job, neither could Joseph’s brethren in their hate kill him. Were it possible for the wicked to go beyond the power of God, who restrains the remainder of their wrath, then they might obstruct, overthrow or defeat God in all his holy and eternal purpose, and the people of his love and choice could have no sure refuge anywhere. But in personifying Christ and all his member, David most truly says, “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” More than once the disciples must have perished in the stormy sea, had not the right hand of the Lord been there to hold them up and save them. In all those instances, and in every event of God’s providence, both his absolute power is made known, and also the utter weakness of man, yea of all men; as well the weakness of his people to save themselves, as the weakness of their foes to destroy them. The almighty power of God is over all, and it limits, bounds and controls all, above, beneath, in all times and places. In full evidence of this immutable truth, when the Son of God walked among men, an humble youth, all creatures and things, men and devils, winds and seas, diseases and deaths, all were absolutely subject to the word of his power; yea, not a secret thought could arise in the mind of friend or foe, but what he knew it and restrained its outbreak. Until he said, “Go,” the devils could not go into the herd of swine. Until God, who sent his Son into the world, delivered him by his determinate counsel and foreknowledge, wicked hands could not take him and crucify him. When the hour of victory had come, and the buried Christ must be declared to be the Son of God with power, it was impossible that he should be holden of death. When he said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore,” neither the Jews nor the Romans, persecutions, prisons nor perils, could stop his servants from going nor defeat his word, for his people were willing in the day of his power. It has ever been so since. With men all this is impossible, but not with God, “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” said his holy child Jesus. But the sinful presumption of weak and foolish man is to limit the power of the Almighty, which they do in many ways. In their littleness men have the pride and arrogance to also assume to be wiser and more holy than God upon his throne of holiness, just because he is omnipotent in power. They would rob the Almighty of his almightiness, deny to him unlimited power and absolute dominion and control. On what pretense do they do this? Their pretext is, that it makes the just and holy One the author of all sin and wickedness. But who or what are they, that they would put themselves in God’s stead, and sit upon his throne in judgment against him? “Who art thou that repliest against God?” Weak and sinful, blinded and ignorant are all they who do this. Those who love and fear God will not so reply against him. All who do so thereby manifest their irreconciliation and enmity against the absolute or unlimited sovereignty of God. The deep depravity of the carnal mind of man radically consists in this enmity and irreconciliation to the supreme One, Creator and Ruler of all, and out of this bitter fountain arises all the religions of the world that would limit God in his absolute attributes, and divide the power between the Almighty and men and devils. They would thus deny to God his eternal power and Godhead, and rob him of his Deity and crown of power. The only object men claim in this is, that in the dispensations of God’s government, both in his grace and providence, very much is left outside of his counsel and determined purpose, and is left to take place one way, or some other way, or not at all, according to the will and power of man, and that very many things are therefore uncertain, and are conditional on the part of man, both in temporal and spiritual things. Out of this claim springs all the doctrine of conditionalism and man’s agency in salvation, which are very popular and accepted in all the religious world. The small remnant who hold that “there is no power but of God,” and cling to the faith that “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth,” are rejected of men.
But let us again turn to the testimony of God, and first, his beloved Son: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.” “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.” To Paul the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” The weakness was in Paul, but the power was in the Lord and his grace; and what was true in Paul is also true in every servant of Christ. As a man Christ was crucified through weakness, but now he liveth by the power of God. “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” “And of his fullness shave all we received, and grace for grace.” This fullness includes all grace and salvation, might and majesty, dominion and power. The word therefore says, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.” ‘And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen.” With the lour beasts all who truly worship God unite in saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” Thus all who worship the Father in spirit and in truth, with one joyful Amen ascribe all power and all holiness unto God and the Lamb forever. Let us now hear what God himself says, both of himself and of all mankind: “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in, that bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown; yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal! saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that hath no might he increaseth strength.” “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor, hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balauce: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” – Isaiah xl. 12-18.
This majestic language of our holy Lord God Almighty should forever rebuke and silence all men who would find fault with the holy One, or limit him in power and might and dominion, or claim any power of themselves, when all the nations of earth are counted less than nothing in his sight. The patriarchs and prophets and holy men of old, who were taught of God, confessed to the truth of this judgment that he has placed upon all men, and testified to their own vileness and weakness and vanity. They said, “Man at his best state is altogether vanity.” Every truly humble, reverential, God-fearing one feels and confesses this truth. They all unitedly join with the heavenly host, who have the harps of God, “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”
Submitted in the love and fear and honor of God.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 78., No. 23.
DECEMBER 1, 1905.