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What God Cannot Do.
What God's Omnipotence Really Means
We sing songs about the power of God a lot. One I particularly like has the words: "My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do." The word omnipotence means all-powerful. The Bible teaches that fact in verses such as Jeremiah 32:27 which tells us:
"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?"
But that's not the only place we see this in Scripture. Luke 18:27 says:
"The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."
And there is also Luke 1:37 which rightfully boasts:
"For with God nothing is impossible."
I. So Why the Article Title?
We could go on with more Scripture than what was given above, but these verses serve to show that our God is indeed all-powerful. Which makes the title of this article puzzling. We are here to talk about what God cannot do. And that isn't a contradiction, because nothing that we are going to talk about has anything to do with His abilities or His great power. Our God is not limited in power in any way. He can speak whole world's and universes into existence. He is everything the Bible says about Him. But what God cannot do are things which go against logic and against His nature.
II. What God Cannot Do
1. For example, God cannot be God, and not God at the same time. That is self-contradictory. Even our Lord Jesus Christ, when He became a man, didn't at that time cease to be God. He took on another nature, and was both God and man.
2. God also cannot create a being that is equal to Himself. Our God is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is the uncreated creator, the unmoved mover. He cannot create a creature equal to Himself because the creator is always going to be superior to the created. And if the being God made was created, then He has a beginning. The created creature can never be eternal in the sense that he had a point at which he didn't exist.
3. One really illogical argument that some people use to deny the existence of God is to ask the question: "Can God make a rock so big that He cannot lift it?" The answer to that is no. Once again it is self-contradictory. God is infinite in size and power. How could an all powerful God make something bigger and more powerful than Himself? It that were even possible, than there would be something greater than God. Then God would cease to be God.
Also, in order to make something bigger than Himself he'd have to make something infinite in size. By definition a rock is finite. Some can be very large, but they aren't infinitely large.
Omnipotence is not the ability to do anything conceivable, like making square circles or round squares. It is rather the ability of God to do anything consistent with His nature and His desire.
4. God cannot cease to exist. He is the everlasting God. He has no beginning and no end. Once again, this is His very nature, or the thing that makes Him God. Psalm 90:2 says that "Before the mountains were born, or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, You are God."
5. God cannot lie. Hebrews 6:18 goes so far as to say that it is impossible for God to lie. The Lord's standard of right and wrong doesn't change, and He is consistent with the truth. There are moral absolutes because God defines them and lives up to them Himself. Being God He could do nothing else.
6. God cannot sin. He is holy (Isaiah 6:1-3). That means that He is totally set apart from sin. His eyes are too pure to look upon, evil and He cannot tolerate wrong (Habakkuk 1:13). This is His intrinsic nature. Nothing can change this.
7. God cannot learn anything new. He is omniscient. That means the Lord is all knowing. Someone who knows everything obviously can't learn anything new, because He doesn't need to do so. He knows the end from the beginning. The Lord never says: "Oops, I didn't know that! " And you'll never hear Him say: "I wonder what will happen next?" Even before He created everything, God knew what would happen. He knows everything about the past and the present, and knows the future as if it were already the present.
8. God cannot flood the entire earth again. Obviously our Lord is completely capable of covering this whole world again with no problem whatsoever. However, He made a promise that He wouldn't do it and always keeps His promises (Genesis 9:11).
9. God cannot be wrong. He created everything, and knows everything about all things He created. Our Lord is good and therefore only chooses what is good and right and pure. He is perfect in all of His ways. And all moral standards that we possess, we have because they are part of the intrinsic nature of God.
10. God cannot say yes to all of our prayers. Sometimes our prayers are selfish, or go against what the Lord knows to be the ultimate good, for us and for the universe. That is why we are admonished to always ask according to His will (I John 5:14,15).
11. God cannot change. This is called, in theology God's immutability. Once again, what is referred to here is the Lord's character. Everything that makes God who He is will not change. For example, He is a God of love and mercy. He will always be loving and merciful. You can count on Him to always be consistent, because that is what and who He is. (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:17,18; James 1:17).
If we had another being in charge of the universe whose nature was any different than that of our God, we would all be in trouble. If He was a God who could cease to exist, who could lie, or was constantly needing to learn, for instance, He would be a God who could not be trusted with our futures. I for one am grateful that there are things that our God cannot do. And He will always be the same reliable God that we know and love. That is just one more reason to praise His name.