The following is food for thought regarding God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. I define them, work, with them, and attempt to draw logical conclusions as they relate to the sovereignty of God,
our existence, the existence of evil, and our free will. The goal is to provide an understanding of God’s greatness and control in the universe that is demonstrated by Scripture and according to God’s attributes.
The three attributes of God under consideration are:
Omnipotence – He has the power to do anything He desires (Job 42:2; Luke 1:37).
Omnipresence – He is in all places, all the time (Jer. 23:24; 1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 90:2).
Omniscience – He knows all things (1 John 3:20).
Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Omniscience
If God is omnipotent, then He has the power to accomplish anything He desires. He can create, alter, or destroy a universe and all that is in it.
He cannot do desire to do that which is logically impossible, i.e., create a round triangle, since the transcendent laws of logic reflect His nature (See The Transcendental Argument for the existence of God) and God cannot contradict His own nature.
His omnipotence necessitates that He retains complete control over all objects that exist and events that occur; otherwise, He would not be omnipotent.
Therefore He is able to Create whatever He desires and govern over all He has created.
If He is omnipresent, then nothing is hidden from Him.
This includes all dimensions; all time whether past, present, or future; and every form of existence either thought, action, or substance.
Therefore God fully encompasses all that exists.
If He is omniscient, then He eternally comprehends all things actual as well as potential.
It is necessarily true that God comprehends all things from His eternal nature since omniscience, by default, is to know all things eternally lest there be a “time” when God did not know something.
God comprehending all things actual means that He comprehends all things that do exist.
This includes all objects in the entire universe, all thoughts, all actions, all motions, etc.
God comprehending all things potential means
All things that could exist but do not exist whether they be thought, motion, deed, object, etc.
All things that have existed but no longer exist whether they be thought, motion, deed, object, etc.
All things that will exist but do not yet exist whether they be thought, motion, deed, object, etc.
Logically, there is an immense number of potential objects, events, and combinations of them that could have existed. But since they do not all exist, their knowledge is restricted to the mind of God, since only He could conceive of an infinite number of potential objects and events.
Logically, there is an immense number of potential objects and events that were not chosen by God (through His creative action) to exist outside of His mind. Therefore, the present world is the world that God has chosen to exist out of an immense number of possible existences.
Therefore, since God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, He is able to create anything He desires while retaining perfect knowledge and complete control of all actual objects and actions – including perfect knowledge and complete control of all possible combinations of events of all those objects and actions. This is sovereignty.
It necessarily follows that all things (actual and/or potential) that have, are, or will be in existence occur due to the direct action of God or by His permission.
For example, God directly brought Adam and Eve into existence knowing that their existence included a fall into sin. Though God did state He does not desire sin, He has permitted it to exist, otherwise, it could not have existed. Yet, His permission is not an endorsement.
Notes on Causation
Ultimate Cause (the foundation of the event) – God created the universe and provided the foundation upon which an event can occur. He is the initial cause of all things. God is the ultimate cause.
Proximate Cause (condition of the event) – God created Bob and put him in a particular place and time. God is the proximate cause because He established the condition in which Bob can perform an action.
Efficient Cause (agent of the event) – Bob stole the money from Frank. Bob is the efficient cause because he is the agent of the cause and is morally responsible for his action, not God.
Conclusion: With all knowledge, God has absolute control over all He encompasses yet is not the author of sin.
In creation, God brought into being a finite set of actualities derived from an infinite set of potentialities.
Having been created and set in motion by God, He has determined the actual number of combinations of objects and events that will exist and occur.
It cannot be that these objects and events are unknown to God, lest that violate His omniscience.
None of the actualities (objects and events that occur) are accidental, nor can they be accidental.
since accident would suggest something outside of God’s omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience.
None of these actualities can function in a manner that is outside the knowledge, presence, or control of God
otherwise, the actualities are independent of God, which would be illogical given His omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience.
Therefore all that exists is under His knowledge and control (see See 1.d.iii above regarding ultimate, proximate, and efficient causation).
All that exists does so not because of an accident, but because God has ordained that it exists.
By ordain, is meant that that which occurs is due to God’s will and purpose (Acts 4:27) according to His knowledge and permission, not that He causes evil (Acts 2:23), but that its existence is ordained by God in His permissive will.
Three wills of God
Decretive Will – God’s will that is accomplished by His direct action, “Let there be light,” (Gen. 1:3).
Prescriptive Will – God’s will that people not sin, (Exodus 20:1-17).
Permissive Will – God’s will to permit people to sin and do that which is contrary to His prescriptive will.
This includes any result of any combination of events.
….since that result would have been foreknown and, therefore, ordained by God as He selected and permits the causes that brought that result.
Therefore, all results are foreknown; that is, they are known because they are ordained by God, and must be what God has either directly caused or indirectly permitted to occur.
This includes those events which are the results of creatures’ wills because,
no will could exist apart from the knowledge or control of God because God created all wills and/or the condition that provides for the existence of the will.
It follows then that evil is something permitted by God, not caused by Him, yet it is under His absolute control.
God cannot be the author of evil since God is holy (1 Pet. 1:16) and God cannot violate His own nature (Titus 1:2).
If God violated His own nature, He would be self-contradictory and, therefore, not be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent since all three attributes are concurrent with God’s self-revealed absolutely pure nature.
Evil is permitted by God.
Yet evil is not greater than God, nor is it out of the reach of His control, or beyond His knowledge lest it violates His attributes of omnipotence, omn
iscience, and omnipresence.
God has created the circumstances by which rebellion against Him can occur.
God permits evil but is not the direct cause of the rebellion. (see See 1.d.iii above regarding ultimate, proximate, and efficient causation).
Evil, apart and separate from God, operates within His controlled realm, because nothing could exist outside God’s control (omnipotence).
Evil, then, operating within the realm of God, can be used by God for His good (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23).
This is true since God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent and would have ordained evil’s permitted existence in the universe for the purpose of accomplishing His ultimate will….otherwise, it would not be permitted to exist.
Free will is the ability to freely act according to one’s desires, which are not forced, and are also consistent with one’s nature.
God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Therefore, free will must be in harmony with a person’s nature that is freely accomplished.
Free will cannot exist outside the sovereignty of God (Prov. 21:1); otherwise, it is independent of God. Independence from God is not possible in a Christian worldview.
Additionally, it also follows, then, that our free will is under the sovereignty of God.
Yet, we are still free to act according to God’s sovereign plan.
Jesus had free will yet, acted according to the sovereignty of God the Father (John 5:19, 30).
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