More about Christian living from my friend Dr. Ken Chant
Things God Cannot Do
I can do something that Almighty God can’t do, no matter how hard he tries! I don’t do it very well, but I can still do it, and the Lord God can’t! What kind of blasphemy is this, you cry? No blasphemy, just a statement of fact.
What is it? − I can play the piano! And the guitar, the piano accordion, the pedal steel guitar, the xylophone, and the mandolin!
In the Bible God actually says, “Is there a limit to what I can do?” asks the Lord. “You will soon see whether or not what I have said will happen!” (Numbers 11:23, GNB)
Yet in reality there is indeed a limit to what God can do, for there are many things that not even almighty power can achieve!
THINGS GOD CANNOT DO
- He cannot deny his own promise
“Balaam took up his discourse and said, ‘Stand up, Balak, O son of Zippor, and listen to me! God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it? Behold, because God has blessed Israel, I too was told to bless them, and I cannot revoke it.’” (Numbers 23:18-20)
- He cannot tell a lie
Nor can God make a lie true nor the truth a lie, for “by two unchangeable things (his unchangeable oath and his unbreakable promise), in which God cannot possibly lie, we who have fled to him for refuge may find strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” (Hebrews 6:18)
- He cannot commit injustice
“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25)
- He cannot act against his name
“Jesus means Saviour. Therefore, whatever we ask that is adverse to the interests of salvation we cannot truly ask in the name of the Saviour. Therefore, he is the Saviour, not only when he does what we ask, but also when he refuses to do so. For when he declines to do what he sees is contrary to our salvation, he manifests himself more fully as our Saviour. He is like a physician who knows which of the requests his patient makes will be favourable to good health, and which will be adverse. A physician will not yield to a request that would hinder his patient’s recovery, but rather works to make his patient well.
Accordingly, when you wish Christ to do whatever you ask, make sure to ask only in his name, and not any other way, that is, present your request to him as your Saviour, which means that you cannot ask for anything that is contrary to your salvation. If he were to answer such a prayer, he could not do it as Saviour; yet that is the name he bears for his faithful disciples.
Whatever, therefore, anyone who believes in him shall ask in that name which he bears for those who believe in him, he will do it; for he will do it as Saviour. But if one who believes in him asks for something in ignorance that is injurious to his salvation, that person cannot ask in the name of the Saviour, for Christ will no longer be the Saviour if he does anything to impede a believer’s salvation. Hence, in such a case, by not doing what he was entreated to do, the way is kept open to do what his name promises.” (St Augustine of Hippo [died 430]. Tractate 73:3, on John 14:10-14, paraphrased.)
- He cannot violate his own laws
Natural Law− Thus God cannot make black white, a circle square, put the tooth paste back into its tube, restore an eaten apple, or do anything that would require an actual violation of the laws of nature. This does not prevent him from working a miracle, but only from doing such things as would require him to break his own decrees.
Thus he cannot, in the same universe, make both an irresistible force and an immovable object. For if one exists, the other cannot. But he can act above the ordinary laws of physics without breaking them, such as when Jesus walked on water, or raised a dead man to life.
Moral Law − he cannot commit nor condone anything that would break one of the basic Ten ommandments.
Things that God can do
- He can do all that is true to his promise
How great is that promise and how many blessings it encompasses!
Yet the challenge still comes to us as it did to the two blind men long ago! (Mathew 9:27-28)
- He can do all that is true to his name
We saw earlier that he cannot act contrary to his Name, but the reverse is also true − he cannot deny what his Name represents.
- He can do all that is true to his character
An old Turkish fable tells how one day a wise man was approached by four young boys who wanted him to help them divide a bag of walnuts between them. “Shall I do it in God’s way, or man’s way?” the sage asked. “Oh! In God’s way!” cried the boys, thinking this would surely mean an equal share for all. Whereupon the old man gave one boy a large handful of nuts, the second a small handful, the third only three, and the last only one. When the boys with less nuts protested loudly, he said they should have asked for man’s division, then they would all have received the same. But God gives much to some, less to others, and to most hardly anything.
There are indeed many mysteries in the providence of God, but some things we can count on −
- His goodwill and benevolence
- His unfailing and inexhaustible love
- His saving grace
- His eternal purpose.
Yes, there are things that God cannot do – he cannot abandon his own children (Hebrews 13:5-6); he cannot let you down (Deuteronomy 33:27); he will always be able and willing to meet your every real need (Philippians 4:19).
Blessings until next time,