While working on Sunday’s sermon, I came across this statement by R. C. Sproul on the omnipotence of God, affirming also the sufficiency of God, who does all things His will desires without dependence on any other thing:
Aristotle was perplexed by the mysteries of change and motion. As he observed changes taking place around him, he noticed different factors involved in the change process. To illustrate these influences, which he called causes, Aristotle used the example of a sculptor creating a statue out of a piece of stone. Aristotle listed the following causes.
1. The material cause: What is something made of? In the case of the statue, it is a block of stone.
2. The instrumental cause: The tools that are used to bring about change. In the case of the statue, it is the chisel.
3. The formal cause: The plan or the blueprint for the change. In the case of the statue, it would be the artist’s sketch.
4. The final cause: The purpose for the change. In the case of the statue, it would be to make a beautiful object of art.
All of these causes are involved in change, but none of them individually —or all of them together — can bring about the desired change. Something else is required. Aristotle added the efficient cause and the sufficient cause. An efficient cause is that which is necessary to do the job. A sufficient cause is that which is clearly able to do the job. The two might be the same. In the case of the statue, the sculptor is both the efficient and the sufficient cause. Without the sculptor, there can be no statue.
The sculptor needs tools and materials to do the job. He is efficient and sufficient not in himself but only with the aid of the other elements.
The sixty-four-thousand-dollar question is this: if it is true of men that nothing can come out of nothing, why is it not also true of God? Why is God the grand exception to the rule? If all the power of nature cannot bring something out of nothing how can God do it?
l don’t know. I don’t have any idea how He does it, and I am completely baffled by God’s power to bring something out of nothing. I know that He does it, but I don’t know how He does it. I also know that reason demands that we accept the premise that something, somewhere has the ability to create out of nothing or nothing would exist. I also know that reason shows that it is impossible for something to create itself. We have to have a creator. That creator must be eternal. That creator must have the power to create or I would not, indeed I could not, be trying to write about this perplexing issue.