Wednesday, December 17, 2014

God of the Impossible

It is easy to imagine that every Christian has heard the skeptical question, “Could God create a rock so heavy He could not lift it?” This question is usually asked by someone who desires to bring doubt on the existence of God or to push an evolutionist view of life. Often, such a person will smugly think that merely asking that question somehow proves that God doesn’t exist, that the Bible is not true, and that he has won the argument by default. He believes he has Christians “quaking in their boots” by merely asking a question that has, in reality, been asked and answered countless times. This question is akin to the ever-popular “Where did Cain get his wife?” and “How do you Christians explain the dinosaurs?” (See article here.)
The argument goes like this:  “If God can create a rock that He cannot lift, then God is not omnipotent. If God cannot create a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it, then God is not omnipotent. According to this argument, omnipotence is self-contradictory. Therefore, God cannot be omnipotent.” (Reference here.) 
“Omnipotence does not mean that God can do anything that you can string together in words. Stringing together things in words may not be anything that is actually even possible … For example, God cannot make a married bachelor … but that doesn’t count against God. If it is not a thing that is conceptually possible, then God cannot do it.” (Reference here.)  I might add to that, “…nor would He want to.” There is nothing in the character of God to indicate that he would fool around with the absurd.
The problem here is that people assume that if God is omnipotent, that means He can do “anything.” That is, however, incorrect. There are things God cannot do. He cannot sin. He cannot lie. He cannot deny Himself. He cannot do anything contrary to His nature. As a matter of fact, I can do some things that God cannot do. I can die. He cannot. I can sin. He cannot. There are many such examples. Does my ability to do some things God cannot do make me more powerful than Him? Of course not! Such a notion is absurd. The things God cannot do speak not of any weakness on His part, but they actually speak of His great power.
For a rock to be so big and heavy that He could not lift it, then it would have to be infinite and equal to His infinite lifting power. Material things cannot be infinite, so the question really is, “Can God make a contradiction?” That question is absurd, and the logic is flawed. The simple answer to this alleged difficult question is that God can make a rock of any size He chooses, but “infinite” is not a “size.” A rock of any size would not be infinite, because it could be made larger. Larger than infinite is another example of absurdity. Clearly, God can lift anything, regardless of its size or weight, because His power if infinite, and physical things are not. The obvious answer to the question is, “No, God cannot make a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it, and that does not diminish His omnipotence. Rather, it underscores it.”
I started college in 1964 and embarked on a path that let me into the field of education. Over all those years until I retired in 2012, I have heard repeatedly, “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” I understand the desire on the part of a teacher not to put down students and make them feel foolish in front of their classmates. However, it did not take me long to realize that there are, in fact, stupid questions. “Could God create a rock so heavy He could not lift it?” Now that’s a stupid question. Rather than making the point it is designed to make, it instead identifies the person asking it as being ignorant of truth, reality, and the nature of God. Such a question is a very pathetic attempt to prove a point, but it ends up proving just the opposite.
God making a rock so big He can’t lift it is not only an impossibility, but it is a logical absurdity. God cannot and does not deal with logical absurdities, which are nonsensical, such as square circles, married bachelors, numbers larger than infinity, etc. People using logical absurdities to try and disprove God’s power and therefore His existence are merely playing games with words, and their words do not prove them to be clever or right.
There is a big difference between that which is logically absurd and that which is merely impossible. Even though God cannot do things that are logically absurd, because that would put Him in a position of contradicting Himself, He can do the impossible. Notice what the Scripture says.
"Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son" (Genesis 18:14, NKJV).
"Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You" (Jeremiah 32:17, NKJV).
"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" (Jeremiah 32:27, NKJV).
"But He said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27, NKJV).
The life of our Lord Jesus Christ here on earth was “bookended” by two marvelous, miraculous, “impossible” events – His virgin birth and His bodily resurrection from the grave. Yes, these events were impossible, at least from man’s perspective, but they were not logically absurd. We can  believe in a virgin birth and a bodily resurrection from the dead, done by the power of our miracle-working God, but we cannot even imagine such things as a married bachelor, a square circle, or “my brother is an only child.” Those things are logical absurdities.
God is the God of the impossible. He has done many “impossible” things. He created the universe out of nothing. Yes, scientists try to tell us that the universe came about in a “big bang” in which virtually nothing exploded and became all the stars, planets, and everything else in our universe. That is impossible. Only God can create out of nothing. God made life from non-life. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7, NKJV). Scientists would have us believe that life is just chemicals that managed to get arranged in the right order at the right place and the right time in order to produce life. That is nonsense and certainly describes something that is impossible without the supernatural working of the great Creator God.
God has done one miracle after another throughout the history of the universe. The virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ was no small miracle. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14, NKJV). This was impossible, but God had no trouble performing such a miracle. Even Mary had her doubts when the Angel Gabriel came to her and told her what was going to happen.  “‘And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’” (Luke 1:31-35, NKJV).
God the Son, the great Creator of the universe, came out of eternity into time and space as the sinless, perfect, holy, God-man. He was born just like every one of us – with one very notable difference. He had a human mother but no human biological father. As a result, he had no sin nature and was therefore a fitting sacrifice for our sins. If He would have had a human father and therefore a sin nature, he could not have died in our place to save us from our sins. The virgin birth of Christ is an absolute necessity to the Gospel narrative. He could not be God if He were not virgin-born, and He could not be our Savior if he were not God.
The great miracle at the other end of the time the Son of God spent on earth is the resurrection. The resurrection makes the Gospel complete. Without the resurrection, we have, like most of the world religions, nothing more than a dead prophet. However, with the resurrection, we have a living Savior who has defeated death, and because of that, we who trust in Him have the gift of eternal life.
The resurrection is one of the most well-established facts of history. It is only because of bias and unbelief that this event is not recorded in secular history books.
“…the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days…” (Acts 1:2-3, NKJV). [Emphasis mine.]
“…He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:4-8, NKJV).
The evidence, biblical and extra biblical, for the resurrection is overwhelming. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and that fact establishes the truth of the Bible, the truth of Christianity, the truth that He is God the Son, and the fact that there is salvation only in Him. "...and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4, NKJV). Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NKJV).
As Christmas approaches, we hear so much about those who want to remove all “religious” symbols from the holiday. Some even go so far as to say Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman are “Christian” symbols and that the holiday should just be called “Winter Solstice.” I really couldn’t care less about Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, the Winter Solstice or any of the other secular symbols of Christmas, and it is ludicrous for anyone to call these things legitimate symbols of the holiday.
Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior into this world. There are many who are OK with that, just so long as we leave off the “virgin birth” part and see Jesus as nothing more than a baby in a manger. They see it as a sweet little story of a sweet little family who endured the hardship of the birth of a child in a stable. Their patience and enduring is a lesson in love, patience, and kindness for all of us, etc., ad nauseam. However, there is much more to it than that.
“The world’s Christmas celebration is bound up in a disturbing incongruity. On the one hand, people go to great lengths to support and sustain the legend of Santa Claus, using his mystical benevolence to leverage good behavior from their children. On the other hand, they systematically minimize the Person and work of Christ — the holiday’s rightful celebrity — to the point that the Lord is nothing more than a plastic infant, frozen for all time in the familiar nativity scene. They exchange the singular Christ for a cheap hoax” (John MacArthur, “The Fullness of God in Helpless Babe”). This entire article is available here.)
Beyond Bethlehem, there is the cross of Calvary and the resurrection. He did all of this to save us, and the Gospel message is very clear. “… I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you by which also you are savedthat Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, NKJV). [Emphasis mine.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments. However, since this is a blog rather than an open forum, I will determine what is and what is not posted. All comments, especially anonymous comments, will be scrutinized carefully. I will not post comments that contain profanity or are negative toward the Scriptures, God, Christianity in general, Christian schools, or the United States of America. I also will not post comments that are nothing more than generally uninformed or absurd opinions. In addition, I will not post comments that are totally irrelevant to the subject being discussed. Finally, I will not post comments that are commercial advertisements or advertisements for religious organizations which are in conflict with my biblical convictions.