The Bible teaches that God is omnipotent and that no other being, whether a human or even Satan himself, can match or surpass his strength. Yet God doesn’t always demonstrate his power and the Bible teaches there are some things God can’t do. This leads believers and unbelievers alike to wonder what the limits of God’s abilities are.
Jesus said all things are possible for God if people have faith (Mark 9:23). The Apostle Paul revealed his confidence in this fact when he said he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him (Phil. 4:13). Yet the Bible also teaches that God can’t do things against his nature like tell a lie (Heb. 6:18).
Are all things possible with God? What does omnipotence mean? Can God make a rock so big even he can’t lift it? What does the Bible say God can’t do? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also see Why Does God Allow Suffering? to learn more.
Are All Things Possible With God?
The Bible teaches that nothing is impossible for God, but that he won’t do things that are contrary to his nature and character. God’s holy nature and character are “immutable,” which means they are unchanging.
This means God won’t act in ways that violate who he is. That God won’t do certain things isn’t a shortcoming of his strength, but a boundary that preserves his holiness.
Where does the Bible teach that nothing is too hard for God? Genesis 18:14 reads, “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son” (ESV). And Jeremiah 32:17 reads, “Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Emphases added)
“I learned as never before that persistent calling upon the Lord breaks through every stronghold of the devil, for nothing is impossible with God. For Christians in these troubled times, there is simply no other way.” ~ Pastor and author, Jim Cymbala, emphasis added
Can God do seemingly impossible things? Yes. Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 19:26 reads, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” In Luke 1:37 the angel Gabriel said to Elizabeth. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” The Apostle Paul applied this truth to himself when he wrote to the Philippians, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Emphases added)
What does omnipotence mean? Omnipotence means that God is all-powerful. His omnipotence is seen in events like his creation of the world (Gen. 1:1) and his becoming a human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (John 1:1, 1:14). Yet one of the most awesome displays of God’s power is seen in saving sinners and transforming their rebellious hearts (Ezek. 36:26; 1 Pet. 1:3-5). In addition to the Scripture already cited, God’s power is also taught in these verses:
- Psalm 147:5, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”
- Isaiah 40:28, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”
- Romans 1:20, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
“It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent.” ~ Pastor Jeremy Taylor
Also see Why Does God Hate Me? to learn more.
Can God Make A Rock So Big Even He Can’t Lift It?
Some skeptics of Christianity ask this question in an attempt to trap believers into acknowledging a contradiction in their beliefs. Yet the truth is that many believers love to discuss questions like this, and it’s a favorite conversation for many Bible college and seminary students to talk about with their professors.
Answer #1: Some theologians respond to the question by saying that it’s a logical absurdity whose intention is to trap a person rather than to educate or inform them. In this way, it’s similar to the question, “Have you stopped robbing banks yet?” If a person says “yes,” it implies that they used to rob banks. If they say “no,” it implies that they are still robbing banks.
Answer #2: Other theologians answer the question with an affirmative “no.” In their view, God will not make a rock so big even he can’t lift it because it would violate his nature and character. If God made a rock so big that he couldn’t lift it, the rock would be more powerful than God. Since the Bible teaches that God won’t work against himself, the answer to the question is “no.”
Also see How Does God Speak To Us? to learn more.
What Is Impossible For God To Do?
God will never die and he will never be unloving. These aren’t limitations of his power, but commitments that uphold his nature and character. When the Bible teaches about such boundaries, readers should be comforted that God will always be faithful to himself, and not discouraged that there are limitations to his abilities. Below are three more examples of things God can’t do.
God can’t lie
- “So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” (Hebrews 6:18, emphasis added)
- “God is not man, that he should lie, or 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 fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:9)
- “In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.” (Titus 1:2)
God can’t deny himself
- “If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, emphasis added)
God can’t be tempted with evil
- “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13, emphasis added)
Also see How Tall Is God? to learn more.
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