Back in the 1970s and 1980s there was a philosophical question, “Can God create a rock He can’t move?” It’s meant as an argument to prove there are things God can’t do. But that question dodges the issue about what God can and can’t do.
For instance, in the beginning God made everything - including the rules. So if God wants to do something outside the rules, that’s His prerogative. If He wants the waters to separate and let the Hebrew people escape pharaoh, then the waters will separate. Some would argue He used natural forces (an east wind) to cause the dry land for Moses and company to escape. Sure, but He made the east wind, too.
If God wanted the flooding Jordan River to dry up and let his people cross over into the Promised Land, He could simply use a collapsing river bank upstream to form a temporary dam to block the flow. The number of examples of using natural forces to accomplish His will are all over the bible.
What about miracles? They’re all over the bible, too. Fire from the heavens to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and the bull sacrifice offered by Elijah when the wood for the fire had been doused with water come to mind. Natural forces again? Maybe it was a meteorite plunging to earth at exactly the right time and place. But what are the chances it happened without His influence?
Then there’s dead folks getting back up and walking around. Leprosy and blindness being cured. Someone with a withered limb having it suddenly straightening out and growing strong. These are all things done in the bible to prove Jesus was God.
But what CAN’T God do? Simply put, He can’t be something other than what He is. He is perfect in every way, so that means He must judge perfectly. He must love perfectly. He must tell the truth perfectly. So when God says He is Truth, that He will judge and love perfectly, most of the world thinks this is a double-bind issue.
Double-bind is when there are one or more conflicting statements putting the subject into a position where they will lose, regardless of his or her response. One classic example is the question, “When did you stop beating your spouse?” It’s a simple matter to escape that double-bind with a response of, “In order to stop, one must first begin - which I haven’t.” It does, though, give a simple example.
When God says He cannot lie, it’s because it would violate who He is. God cannot create a square circle, because it violates what it means to be a circle to have one that’s square. So when God says He will judge and love perfectly, He will. The escape from that double-bind is a little more involved than in the Sidebar above.
Virtually everyone on Earth wants murderers to be punished. Rapists and other violent offenders deserve time in prison, too. Right? But where does love draw the line on what is and isn’t punished? The only logical line to be drawn is that all wrongdoing must result in punishment, or there isn’t perfect justice.
Perfect love, however, demands there should be an escape clause. Since the universe was set up for eternal punishment or eternal salvation, there must be a way to have the punishment fulfilled, AND get those He loves to spend eternity with Him.
Jesus is the fulfillment of that double-bind. He took the punishment we deserve so we could get the reward He deserves. The rules made back in Genesis allow for substitutional punishment. So Jesus is the escape clause. But God won’t force it on anyone. If someone doesn’t want God, then he or she will get not-God for eternity. He won’t force us to accept something we don’t want.
God must have perfect justice and perfect love. It’s who He is. The answer to the original question of, “Is there something God can’t do?” Yes.
He can’t stop being God.
But you can.
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