Theologians have, for years, come up with all kinds of ways to describe God. And a lot of the words that they’ve come up with to describe God begin with the word OMNI. That’s the title of this four-part series. Omni means “all.”
This is part one, OmniGod.
I did a man-on-the-street interview video several years ago in North Carolina. We asked random people on the street “What do you think God is like?” We got all kinds of answers. Big. Powerful. A myth. One guy said “Once in a while He comes in handy and once in a while I blame Him for everything.” I thought that was pretty honest. A lot of people said “I don’t know.” Or “I have no idea.” or “That’s a tough question.” or “That’s too hard of a question.” Or “No one knows the answer to that.” Occasionally we found a Christian believer who would answer “Jesus.” or “My Savior.” A lot of people waved us off and said something like “I don’t discuss religion.” Others said “There is no God” and stomped off angry. One drunk guy answered “You know, I’ve been drinkin’ but I’ll tell you something. I think God is something you can’t describe until you meet Him.”
A couple of those answers really jumped out at me. The guy that said once in a while God comes in handy and once in a while I blame Him for everything. I thought, wow, that’s a pretty honest answer, right? I mean, if we were really honest, we’d say, yeah, that’s kind of true in my life too. I tend to use God that way. We forget about Him most of the time and only think about Him when we get into trouble or have a problem that needs solving. Then we think, “Som God power would come in pretty handy right now. Oh Lord, I’m sorry I haven’t been talking to you much but right now I could really use Your help and I promise IF You help me out this time I will pay much more attention to You going forward.” Sometimes He comes in handy when we ask for something and He says yes. And oftentimes we blame him for everything in our life that we don’t like. Even though, again, we haven’t paid Him any attention for a long time. We don’t tend to give Him much credit or glory when things are going great in our lives but we sure are quick to complain about Him when something bad happens. “God why didn’t you stop this bad thing from happening? God, why didn’t you get me out of this situation I got myself into?” The other answer that really stuck with me was the guy who was drunk. Even though he was drunk it was a really insightful answer. He said, “I think God is something you can’t describe until you meet Him.”
I think he was saying, you can’t really know God until you die and get to heaven and meet Him face to face. As we talked more about it with this fellow, he was saying it’s impossible to know Him in this world, in this life. Until you die and get to heaven and meet him you can’t really describe Him. Of course, from a Christian worldview, if you don’t have a saving relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ, you aren’t going to be showing up in heaven when you die anyway. And so I thought a lot about that answer. Is that really true? Is it really impossible to know ANYTHING about God in this life? Is it really impossible to describe God in ANY accurate way? I agree that He is far too much to be fit into any little human definition box but that doesn’t mean we can’t know ANYTHING about Him. Of course, theologians have, for years, come up with all kinds of ways to describe God. And a lot of the words that they’ve come up with to describe God begin with the word OMNI.
That’s the title of this four-part series. Omni means “all.” Let’s talk about our OMNIGOD! If you are ready to hear what God has put on my heart to share with you tonight would you do me a favor and either say or type HIT ME WIT’ IT G! I’M READY! Awesome. Mahalo. Let’s get into it. We say God is omnipotent. He is all-powerful. All power belongs to God. There’s no power that you can imagine. No power you’ve ever heard of, no power that exists, that doesn’t really already belong to God. And then we say God is omniscient. This latin suffix “scient” is the root of our words science and scientific. And it means knowledge. So God has all knowledge. There’s nothing that you could know or learn or discover that God doesn’t already know. There is no knowledge in the universe that doesn’t already belong to God.
And then, we can also say God is omnibenevolent. He’s all benevolent. He is all good. He is all-loving. He is always motivated by good and love and pureness and holiness and righteousness. He never does wrong. He never does evil. As His children, He always has our best interests at heart. We’ve been talking about that on the last couple of Sundays too. God has no desire to do evil to us. God has no desire to do harm us. The Bible says God has plans to prosper us, to give us hope and a future. That’s why it makes no sense for us to blame Him when things go badly in our lives. And then we also say God is omnipresent. He is already present everywhere, in every time, all at the same time. God exists outside of time and space because He created time and space. There’s no place you can go in the entire universe that God isn’t there. If Elon Musk’s Space X ever gets us to Mars we will find that God is already there.
There’s no time you can go to that God isn’t there. If we ever develop a time machine and can go back or forward in time we will find that God (And Doc Brown and Doctor Who) are already there. So, God is all-powerful. He’s all-knowing. He’s all-loving and He is all present. He’s all of these things. He is omni. And so we’ve used these words to, at least partially, describe God for a long time. We’ve said He’s omni – all – of these things. And it shouldn’t surprise us, because by definition, God HAS to be omni. He HAS to be ALL or He’s not God. I mean, that’s that’s the primary job description of being God. That’s the primary definition of the philosophical and theological term God.
If you go to a philosophy of religion class at any college, you’ll hear all kinds of philosophers views on God. And one of the phrases you’ll hear often as a definition for God is that He is the uncaused cause or He’s the immovable mover. He’s the ultimate concern. If anything else came before God then that is actually God, not Him. If something else caused God then that is God not Him. If anything existed before Him, if anyone created Him or caused Him to be then God is not God. If anything or anyone is more powerful than God then He is not God anymore. If anything is more worthy of respect and worship then that is God, not God. God is not omni anymore. If there’s something bigger than God, more powerful than God, smarter than God, more creative than God, greater than God, more loving than God, then He ceases to be God. He HAS to be omni. He IS omni. Our God is OMNIGOD. Sounds like a superhero, doesn’t it? It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s OMNIGOD. Right? Omni God. That’s who He is. He is all things. He IS what we call Creation itself.
All of creation, time, energy, space, matter, ALL OF IT exists within Him. He IS existence itself. He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, all loving, all present, omni. That’s the core philosophical and theological understanding of the word God (capital G) God. Anything less than omni makes Him at best a small case g god, one of many or it means He’s just another created being like you and me. That’s pretty lame right? So the good news is, the God of the Christian faith, the God we serve, He IS the Omni God. He IS the one true God. Cynics and critics will immediately ask: “Well, how can you possibly know that? How can you be sure that you have the right one? Throughout recorded history, we can count anywhere from 8,000–12,000 so-called gods who have been worshiped by various people groups. We can group all of those thousands of gods into about eleven different types of deities (based on theological characteristics) that have been worshiped. Every modern concept of god also fits into one of those eleven types of god as well.
When it comes to religion who is right about God? What about the Jews? Christianity agrees with Judaism on 99% of our understanding about God. They only reject our beliefs in Jesus and the Trinity but we agree we serve the same Father God. What about the Buddhists? They don’t acknowledge a supreme God at all. Only a search for enlightenment. What about the Hindus? They believe in a Supreme Being called Brahman though he is known by many different names. They also acknowledge 33 types of other gods. What about the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Mormons? They claim they worship the same God as orthodox Christianity.
Actually though, when we dig into their theology a little bit we learn they don’t believe the same things we do about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, God the Father and the trinity. They disagree about a few, core, super important theological points that keeps them from being recognized as orthodox Christianity. What about Islam who recognizes a supreme God, the only and only God, they call Allah? They reject the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity as well. And there are many other lesser-known religions and opinions about God. Critics and cynics and agnostics ask “Who is right and how can we know?” There are (TWO CONFIRMATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN GOD) two big places that we can find confirmation that God, the God that orthodox Christians believe in, worship and serve, is the one true God, the only God, the supreme God, the OMNIGOD. The first place is the Biblical record and the second is in the person of Jesus Christ. We’ve been talking a lot about Jesus as the foundation of our faith on Sunday mornings as well. We’ll talk more about Him in a minute but first, let’s talk about the Biblical record when it comes to claims about God and proofs about God.
There is valid history in these pages describing many men and women who lived their entire lives committed to serving the God they had personally encountered. After these encounters, they recorded their experiences and recorded what God had communicated to them about Himself. Many of them, and many people since then, have given their lives to protect the validity of what is found in these words. They stood by their experience and by their testimony over thousands of years, many willing to be put to death rather than renounce their personal experience with God.
People said, “Hey, I’ve experienced this God, I’ve interacted with this God, I’ve seen Him work. I’ve seen His miracles. I’ve witnessed all of these things that He’s done. And I can testify. He’s for real. He’s true. He’s the real thing.” Several prophets recorded their conversations (sometimes audible and sometimes internal visions) with God as He told them about Himself. Moses tells us in Deuteronomy 4:39 —
39 Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. ~ Deuteronomy 4:39
— Isaiah tells us God said
I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; 6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. ~ Isaiah 45:5-6
Those are just two examples but we actually see a TON of similar Biblical claims where God spoke to human prophets about Himself and they communicated what they heard, what they experienced, in astoundingly similar ways, always consistently. The Bible is not just one single book. This is a more common misconception than many people realize, especially with people who do not come from a Judeo-Christian background. Rather than being a single book, the Bible is actually a collection of 66 books, containing a variety of genres: history, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature, letters, and apocalyptic just to name a few. These 66 books were written by 40 different authors who came from a variety of backgrounds: shepherds, fishermen, doctors, kings, prophets, and others. And most of these authors never knew one another personally.
These 66 books were written over a period of 1500 years. Yet again, this is another reminder that many of these authors never knew or collaborated with one another in writing these books. The 66 books of the Bible were written in 3 different languages, Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; a reflection of the historical and cultural circumstances in which each of these books were written. Finally, these 66 books were written on 3 different continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe. Once again, this is a testament to the varied historical and cultural circumstances of God’s people. This collection of books shares a common storyline – the creation, fall, and redemption of God’s people; a common theme- God’s universal love for all of humanity; and a common message- salvation is available to all who repent of their sins and commit to following God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. The Biblical record is a profoundly compelling confirmation of our Christian, OMNIGOD.
The second place that we can go to to learn that the God we serve is THE Omni God, the one true God, is the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus constantly testified about who God is. Jesus constantly showed us who God is. The testimony and the example of Jesus proves it for us. Jesus performed many miracles while He walked this earth. We have mountains of evidence that He was a real person who really walked the earth and really did all of those things. The people who knew Him best, who witnessed these things first hand, were all willing to die horrible, torturous deaths rather than deny what they had said about Him was true. Not a single one bailed or recanted even in the face of death.
When Watergate happened, those conspirators couldn’t wait to turn on each other and sell each other out. That’s typical human nature. These disciples were willing to die for the truth. They would not have all been willing to die for a lie. Jesus told them repeatedly who He was and Jesus repeatedly revealed the OMNI GOD to them. In John 14:5-10 we read this conversation that Jesus has with two of His disciples named Thomas and Philip.
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. ~ John 14:6-10
Again, we have many eyewitness accounts of Jesus and His miracles. Written accounts of these have survived through 2,000 years. There is more literary evidence of this than any other ancient manuscripts. More than several others combined. We can trust the validity of the Biblical record and we can trust the word of Jesus who proved Himself to be God in so many powerful ways that many people were willing to die to protect the truth of His identity. Jesus showed us God’s power of creation. He showed us His power over the elements.
Jesus showed us His power over life, over death and more. Jesus shared the knowledge and wisdom of God with all of us. Through sermons and parables and miracles and conversations Jesus was never stumped. He clearly knew all things. Jesus showed us ample evidence of God’s infinite love and mercy by offering us all forgiveness and eternal life through His sacrifice on the cross and through Jesus. Jesus demonstrated the omnipresence of God by being in two places at one – heaven and earth – and also shared that the Holy Spirit of God was everywhere at all times. Our OMNIGOD chose to introduce Himself to humanity through Jesus. That is a very good thing for you and me. Because the truth is, that’s the only way we can really get to know God. He chooses to introduce himself to us. He is so otherly than we are, there is no way we could have discovered Him on our own. I’m not all-powerful. I’m very weak. I’m not all knowledgeable. I’m kind of a goober. I’m not all present. Sometimes I’m not even fully present where I physically am. I’m not all-loving. I can often be kind of a jerk. Ask my family. Sometimes I get hangry – hungry angry.
But God is ALL of those things, all-powerful, all-knowing, all present and all-loving. He’s so different than me. How could I ever come to know what He was like on my own? Fortunately, God has chosen to reveal Himself to us, to help us come to know Him, through the person of Jesus Christ. God tells us He wants us to know Him personally. He wants us to know him intimately. He wants us to have a relationship with Him. We could also say that God is omni approachable, that God is omni knowable, that God is omni relatable. And throughout scripture, we see again and again God is crying out to us. “I want to show Myself to you.” “Come close. Come here. Come near. Follow Me. Know me, seek me. Find me. Love me. Be loved by me.” It’s all through the scriptures. One of my favorite scriptures of all comes from Jeremiah twenty-nine. I quoted a little bit of it earlier where I shared that God said:
11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord … ~ Jeremiah 29:11-14a
That’s a promise that we can count on, that we can put our faith in, as we’ve been discussing on Sundays. And so, throughout the Bible, God repeatedly defines and describes Himself to make it easier for us to know Him, to understand Him, to have a relationship with Him. And we read that all power comes from God. All knowledge comes from God. All love comes from God, all things come from God. Everything that has ever been created was created by God. Everything starts and finishes with Him.
And so if you’re wanting to get the most out of life, you should really spend some time getting to know the author and creator of life. Who better to show us and guide us and explain life to us than the one who created it all? And He wants you to know him. He wants to share His power with You. He wants to share His knowledge with you. He wants to share His love with you. He wants to share His presence and His creation with you. Isn’t that cool? The coolest thing ever. Listen to what the Apostle Paul said when he speaking to some people at Mars Hill in Rome about a statue they called “Statue to an Unknown God.”
The Romans believed in and worship many different gods but they were always open to the idea of another one. So they built this statue, this idol, as a catch all representation of any other gods that might be out there that they hadn’t worshiped yet. They didn’t want to rip offending any gods they had left out. Paul uses this search for knowledge and begins to tell them about the one, true God that they have yet to know. He says:
24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’… ~ Acts 17:24-25
So, Paul, who had a personal encounter with the risen, glorified Jesus Christ, God the Son, says, despite what many people believe, God is not aloof. God is not untouchable, unknowable, unsearchable, unapproachable, unreachable. He’s not a stand-offish Wizard of Oz kind of God hiding behind a great celestial curtain, daring us to try to find him. He’s nearby. He’s reaching out for a relationship with you. He’s longing for you to know Him as intimately and as personally as He already knows you. And that is very, very cool. AMEN? YAY GOD? Our OMNIGOD wants to fully connect with you!
Now, next week, we’ll look a little closer at God’s omnipotence and His omniscience. In week three we’ll look at His omnibenevolence. And finally, in week four, we’ll discuss God’s omnipresence. We’ll talk about why those characteristics of God are important to us. Because we might say, “Ok, so God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipresent. What does that have to do with me? How does that benefit me? I mean, that’s great for Him but what difference does it make in my life?
Again, I’m not omnipotent. I just barely have enough power to squeak by at the end of the day before I fall into bed exhausted. I’m not omniscient. Most days I know just enough to get by and often I feel very confused and lost. I am ashamed to say I am not omnibenevolent. I love some people really well but not so much when it comes to some others. I love people who love me in return but people who hate me? I have a really tough time loving them. I love some people more than I love others. I’m not always kind. I’m not always gentle or loving. I don’t always put others first. I’m definitely not omnipresent. I have so many responsibilities, often people expect me to be two or three or four places at once but I just can’t do that. Does that sound like you? I’m just confessing that’s my day-to-day reality. What about you? So omni God has omni power, knowledge, presence and love. That is great for Him but how’s that going to help me in my world? Here’s how. Because what God has God shares. Let me say that again. What God has God shares. In addition to all the other omnis that relate to God, our omni everything, omni God is omni generous as well. We’ll see that as we go through this series together. He shares what He has with His children.
Throughout Scripture we see God doing this. He’s giving us life. He’s giving us sustenance. He’s giving us love. He’s giving us companionship. He’s giving us the earth (land, sea and sky.) He gives us plants to eat. He gives us animals. He gives us children. He gives us blessings. He gives us nations. He gives us power. He gives authority to His people. He gives His power, knowledge, wisdom, presence and love and generosity. All of these all made available to you and me, His children. So how can we receive these OMNIs? How can we experience God’s OMNIs in our life? Well, there’s actually two big ways the omnis of God flow to us.
And that’s what we’re going to talk about for the next three weeks. Again, next week we will talk more about His omnipotence and His omniscience. The following week we’ll talk more about His omnibenevolence. Finally, in week four, we’ll talk more about His omnipresence.
~~~~~ LET’S PRAY ~~~~~