A Brick in the Valley


Anything God Cannot Do?
June 18, 2007, 2:58 am
Filed under: Chris Brauns Radio Spots

How about a True or False question?  See if you can get this one right.True or False, God can do anything but fail?

One more time, True or False, God can do anything but fail?

The answer is “False.”  There is a long list of things that God cannot do.  Generally, the things that God cannot do all fit into one category; God cannot do anything that is untrue to himself. 

Understand, no one or nothing outside of God limits God.  But, God is limited by His own character.  For instance, God cannot be unholy because God is Holy.  God cannot lie, because God is truth.  God cannot be unloving, because God is love.

And, get this.  God is just.  And, He cannot be unjust.  This is very important to understand because the Bible tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  And, because God is just, he cannot and will not overlook sin – – not even one sin.

This means that when we stand before God, he will not allow any to come into Heaven based on their own merit. 

So, the most important question for human beings becomes, how can we ever hope to go to be right with God?  And, the answer to that question is only through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Salvation is found only in Him. 

How about reading John 3 really carefully today?

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7 Comments so far
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Chris, should you not distinguish between “cannot” and “will not”? You might be perfectly capable of shooting your wife dead (that is, if you have a wife and a gun). But you will not do so because (I presume) you love her. Similarly God can do things against his character of love, but chooses not to do them. This is the meaning of the last part of 2 Timothy 2:13. And how about reading Luke 1:37 carefully today? And yes, I am aware of the variant interpretation of this verse in TNIV.

As for your claim that God will not overlook sin, how do you square that with the repeated statements in Scripture that God forgives sins? Maybe there is a difference between “overlook” and “forgive”, although one which is apparently lost on Richard Cunningham, but if so you need to explain this, before people come to misunderstand you (at least I hope this is a misunderstanding) as saying that their sins cannot be forgiven.

Comment by Peter Kirk

Peter,

Thanks for your thoughts. I did consider them carefully. You’re a careful thinker as always and a great help.

I am still amazed that there is someone who would suggest that God does not forgive sins. So, yes, I do want to clarify. God DOES forgive sins. And, He does so in a way that is consistent with his own justice. So, when God forgives, it is not as though he suspends or quits on justice for a time. He does not simply “overlook” them.

I do believe it is fair to say that God cannot do something that is inconsistent with his own character – – not what was in view in Luke 1:37.

I trust that you had a great weekend. It was very hot and humid in the Upper Midwest.

Chris.

Comment by cdbrauns

With cases like God’s nature, it’s easy to see the disagreement between those who think God cannot go against his nature and those who think God will not go against his nature. But there are lots of examples of things God can’t do that aren’t like this. Logical truths are necessary, for instance. God can’t make 2+2=5. God can’t make a rock too big for God to move. God can’t make something that’s both a square and a circle in the same way and at the same time and place. God can’t know something false. Those are all because otherwise there would be contradictions, and those are impossible. These are limitations on God’s omnipotence, because it’s not as if anything in those descriptions amounts to a real thing that God can’t do. The point of saying that nothing is impossible for God is that even the laws of nature are subject to God’s control. But that doesn’t mean the laws of logic are. Those are necessary truths.

There are cases having to do with God’s nature that aren’t related to God’s moral nature. For example, God can’t learn anything (presuming open theism is false). God can’t have false beliefs. These aren’t that God refuses to do them. They’re just impossible, given God’s nature.

Comment by Jeremy Pierce

Thanks Jeremy. Those are great thoughts – – A great deal to think about there. I’ve read your post through a couple of times. . .

I’ve now subscribed to your blog.

Chris.

Comment by cdbrauns

Jeremy, I accept that God cannot do things which are not real things but contradictions. But that is a different matter, not what Chris was talking about. There is nothing logically contradictory about, for example, God telling a lie or overlooking a sin. It is just that God, as part of his character, chooses not to lie. I’m not saying that he has to make an active choice at every moment not to tell a lie. But he has the power to do so if he desires to. Compare my illustration of a man who is able to shoot his wife, but doesn’t do so because he loves her.

If you deny that, you deny God’s omnipotence and make him bound by something outside of himself. See this post where I wrote:

these Christians seem to believe that their one God is not sovereign over all but is subject to a greater force, an impersonal “justice” which cannot be cheated. So, for them, God cannot simply forgive sinners, because “justice” does not allow it …

Is this what you believe? I don’t.

Comment by Peter Kirk

Jeremy said, “The point of saying that nothing is impossible for God is that even the laws of nature are subject to God’s control. But that doesn’t mean the laws of logic are. Those are necessary truths.”

In what sense are they “necessary”? They are perhaps fundamental truths of the universe in which we live: the one God created. But they do not, I’d suggest, exist outside of God. They are not a sort of logical “pre-existent matter” that he *had* to work with. Isn’t it rather that God made the universe in such a way that logic “works”, simply because he chose to make it that way (perhaps as a reflection of his own character). We put 2 balls in a box; add 2 more; look in the box, and there are 4 (2+2=4). But surely God *could* have made a universe where that was not consistently so, where balls appeared or disappeared at random (so on one occasion 2+2=5 and next time =3). It’s good news for us that he chose not to, as living in such a universe would be frustrating to say the least.

Comment by John Radcliffe

[…] a recent comment at A Brick in the Valley, Jeremy Pierce wrote that there are many things which God cannot do because they are logically […]

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