God Can’t Do Everything

Written in June, 2017.

Has anyone ever told you that there is nothing God can’t do? It seems like a correct statement about God — after all, he is omnipotent. And doesn’t Jesus himself say, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible?” Jesus was not speaking literally, I would argue, because scripture makes it clear that God can’t do everything. In fact, if God could do everything, he could not be perfect and therefore He could not be the Yahweh that we know. Let me show you from scripture. In Hebrews 6 we read this:

For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

Here the author of Hebrews tells us that it is impossible for God to lie. Indeed, it is impossible for God to do anything that is contrary to his character. This has a wonderful implication: it means that His word is certain. He is not like us who make mistakes or say things without complete understanding or who make best guesses or even state outright lies. This is why God, when he chose to make a promise to Abraham, did not swear by any man but swore by himself.

It is God’s character, then, that is the bedrock of our faith. When your faith is on trial, what do you appeal to? The scientific, archaeological, and historical research of scholars is uncertain. It is inherently speculative and prone to error. The word of fallible, finite minds that have existed only a handful of years and have experienced only a speck of what has happened in history of the universe cannot give certainty. Even if those minds have multiple PhD’s. Even if those minds know twelve languages. Even if those minds have cured polio or put men on the moon. Even if those minds are respected by the entire world.

Certainty can only come from an omniscient, eternal, infallible mind that has communicated with us. That is why the psalmist wrote, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in men.” It is why John wrote, “If the witness of man is great, the witness of God is greater.” It is why Christ refuted the pharisees by saying, “Even if I bear witness of myself, my witness is true.”

Would you like to know the bottom-line answer to every person who has ever doubted God’s word? To every person who has ever used science or history or philosophy or their own personal experience to challenge Christianity? Ready for it? “God’s word is knowledge. Your word isn’t.”

This is why God responded to Job’s charges against him by rhetorically asking, “Who is this who darkens counsel without knowledge?” It is why Isaiah wrote of God, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” It is why Paul wrote of unbelievers, “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” Because “in Christ are hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

In conclusion, I am thankful that God cannot do many things that I can do, namely that he cannot lie. His word is always perfect, always certain, always justified because of who he is.