What Is the Bible’s View?
Can God Do Everything?
THE true God, Jehovah, is all-powerful and infinitely wise. He is always at the zenith of his abilities. Fittingly, the following acknowledgment is made in Scripture: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.” (Rev. 4:11) As the Creator, he has knowledge and power far beyond the capacity of frail humans to comprehend. He can do the humanly impossible.
On one occasion the Son of God assured his disciples: “With God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26) But did he thereby mean that God can do everything, that absolutely nothing is impossible for Him?
The statement of Jesus Christ must be understood in the light of what was being discussed. Just prior thereto Jesus had pointed out how difficult it would be for a rich man to get into the kingdom of the heavens, saying: “It is easier for a camel to get through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 19:24) Since at that time the ruling class was made up of rich men, such words came as a real surprise to the disciples. They asked: “Who really can be saved?” That is, since a rich man cannot get into God’s kingdom, who, then, can be saved? Jesus answered: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”—Matt. 19:25, 26.
Yes, it is impossible for imperfect humans to prove themselves to be righteous and deserving of salvation. Wise King Solomon noted: “There is no man righteous in the earth that keeps doing good and does not sin.” (Eccl. 7:20) So God’s arrangement to have sins atoned for by means of Jesus Christ is the only way through which salvation is possible. The Christian apostle John wrote: “He [Jesus Christ] is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.”—1 John 2:2.
But there are obstacles standing in the way of a person’s accepting God’s means of salvation. Take the case of the rich, for example. They may have no spiritual inclinations but may trust in their riches rather than in the Most High. (1 Tim. 6:17) If proud of their wealth and position, they may not want to be numbered among the despised disciples of Jesus Christ, many of whom are very poor. Their attitude may be that of the Jewish religious leaders in the first century C.E. who said of Jesus: “Not one of the rulers or of the Pharisees has put faith in him, has he? But this crowd that does not know the Law are accursed people.” (John 7:48, 49) Also, often the rapid gaining of wealth results in trampling upon the rights of others, sinning against them. A Bible proverb says: “He that is hastening to gain riches will not remain innocent.” (Prov. 28:20) For anyone to gain salvation, the imperfect, sinful human must repent of these things and abandon wrong attitudes and practices. Humanly this may seem to be impossible. With God’s help, however, the sinful human can do so, if that is really his desire.
Hence, the words “with God all things are possible” must be understood in harmony with the context. They should not be applied to the extreme limit in every situation. These words relate specifically to the Almighty’s grand work of salvation.
Consider, too, the statement of the angel Gabriel to Mary: “With God no declaration will be an impossibility.” (Luke 1:37) The angel was not saying that God can do everything, regardless of what it may be. Rather, he was showing that there was reason for confidence in what God declares or states to be His purpose.
Mary had been told that, as a virgin, she would give birth to the Son of the Most High. (Luke 1:30-33) This was humanly impossible. Therefore, Mary asked: “How is this to be, since I am having no intercourse with a man?” Answering her question, Gabriel continued: “Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God’s Son. And, look! Elizabeth your relative has also herself conceived a son, in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her, the so-called barren woman; because with God no declaration will be an impossibility.”—Luke 1:34-37.
The case of barren Elizabeth’s becoming pregnant illustrated that Jehovah God, by means of his spirit, could accomplish what he declared through the angel Gabriel to Mary. In faith, Mary replied: “Look! Jehovah’s slave girl! May it take place with me according to your declaration.”—Luke 1:38.
Centuries earlier, Jehovah God had done the humanly impossible by starting the line of descent leading to the Son to be born of Mary. This was by reviving the reproductive powers of aged Abraham and his barren wife Sarah. Commenting on this, the Christian apostle Paul wrote: “Although [Abraham] did not grow weak in faith, he considered his own body, now already deadened, as he was about one hundred years old, also the deadness of the womb of Sarah. But because of the promise of God he did not waver in a lack of faith, but became powerful by his faith, giving God glory and being fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to do.” (Rom. 4:19-21) “Also from one man, and him as good as dead, there were born children just as the stars of heaven for multitude and as the sands that are by the seaside.”—Heb. 11:12.
Thus we can see that God is able to do everything that is in harmony with his purpose. His promises are certain to be fulfilled.
Jehovah God, however, cannot act contrary to what he is—the holy, all-wise and almighty God. That is why there are things that he simply cannot and will not do.
For instance, Jehovah cannot be unrighteous. The Bible tells us: “Far be it from the true God to act wickedly, and the Almighty to act unjustly!” (Job 34:10) For this reason it is impossible for him to look approvingly upon the deeds of wicked men. The Hebrew prophet Habakkuk wrote of him: “You are too pure in eyes to see what is bad; and to look on trouble [with approval] you are not able.” (Hab. 1:13) He is also a God of truth and, therefore, the Christian apostle Paul spoke of him as the ‘God who cannot lie.’—Titus 1:2.
Surely, then, the Almighty God merits our absolute confidence. Nothing can cause him to fail in carrying out his declarations and promises. “The things impossible with men are possible with God,” said Jesus Christ. (Luke 18:27) Jehovah God can be depended upon because he cannot lie or in any other way act contrary to what he is. Since he cannot do bad things, we have a solid basis for faith in the fulfillment of all the promises found in his Word, the Bible.