Can God Make a Rock Too Heavy to Lift?
In the book of Job, the man Job learned some hard lessons about the sovereignty of God. After suffering in unbelievable ways in the early chapters, he then engages for chapters and chapters and chapters of debate with his bad counselors. And finally, the Lord kind of descends, and he takes Job and his counselors to school about who he is and the power that he has. And Job demonstrates that he learned his lessons. Well, in Job 42:2, the Bible says, “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” I know you can do all things. This is a teaching in Scripture that faithful Christians drink in. And we know, and we believe, in fact, even for people who aren’t Christians, if you have any kind of belief in God, the only God worth believing in is a God who can do all things. And that’s why one of the most asked and popular theological questions out there is the question, can God (who can do all things) make a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it? This was a question that actually fascinated me when I was a young kid before I got saved. I actually remember being in a Vacation Bible School one time before I was a Christian, and there was a time when the kids got to meet with the pastor, and the pastor was answering questions. And I asked this question, can God make a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it? And the pastor seemed a little frustrated with the question. He didn’t like the question and didn’t like that I asked it. And he basically said, God’s too busy to worry with such things like that. I felt a little frustrated. I felt a little cheated that the pastor didn’t answer the question that I asked. And I do not want to cheat you this week on Marked by Grace. I want you to believe that I have answered the question. It’s a question that came to me just lately here in our church from a young fella here in our church who wanted to know from me, hey, can God make a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it?
There Are Some Things God Cannot Do
The reason that the question seems like a stumper is that it seems like you’re between a rock and a hard place. If God is so powerful that he could make a rock that he can’t lift it, then there’ll be a limitation on his power because he can’t lift the thing. But then, if God can’t lift the rock that is so heavy that he can’t lift it, then it seems like there’s a limitation on his ability to make such a rock. So either way, it seems like we limit God’s power, and we call into question the teaching of Job 42:2 that God “can do all things and that no purpose of his can be thwarted.” So how do we answer this question? I do think we can answer. I think there’s a clear answer to it, and on the way to an answer, we need to agree that the Bible itself, God himself, is clear that there are some things that even God cannot do. There are some things that God cannot do because they are inconsistent with who he is. So in Titus 1:2, the Bible says that “it is impossible for God to lie.” We don’t think that this calls into question Job 42:2, that God can do all things. Because actually God not being able to lie is a limitation on his character that actually maximizes his character. To say that God cannot lie means that God is infinite and limitless with regard to the truth. If God could lie, that would be something that would be possible for him to do that would actually limit who he is in a very, very bad way. We don’t want a God who is limited with regard to the truth. We want a God who is limitless with regard to the truth, and that means it must be impossible for him to lie.
The Bible also teaches that it is impossible for God to die. In 1 Timothy 6:16, the Bible says of God that “He alone has immortality.” So that is a limit that is on God. If God didn’t have that limitation and could die, it would actually minimize who he is, but because God cannot die, it maximizes who he is. God is limitless; we would say, with regard to life, there is nothing that can end God’s ability to live. So whenever we come up against these things, in the Bible, that God cannot do when you scratch just beneath the surface. It’s not mostly about what he can’t do. But it’s about the limitlessness with regard to the good things about him. When God can’t lie, he’s limitless with regard to the truth. When God can’t die, he’s limitless with regard to life.
God Cannot Make a Rock That Is Too Heavy for Him to Lift
Well, it’s the same thing in the answer to the question, can God make a rock that is so heavy that he can’t lift it? The answer to the question is no. God cannot do that. God cannot make a rock that is so heavy that he can’t lift it. And here’s the reason why. If you said that God could make such a rock that would be so heavy that he can’t lift it, then you would be saying that God could make something that is outside of his control that is outside of his ability to do all things. But the Bible says that God can do all things. Since God can do all things, it’s impossible for him to do anything or to create anything that would be outside of his control. If this sounds like a limitation on his character, we just need to think about those Bible verses limiting his ability to lie and limiting his ability to die. They actually point to limitlessness with regard to the truth and limitlessness with regard to life. So this relates to limitlessness with regard to his power. When we say no, God can’t make a rock that is so heavy that he can’t lift it because he can’t do anything, he can’t create anything that is outside of his power. We just mean God is infinite in power. There is no way that anything could exist. There is no way that God could do anything that is outside of his power. And so when we say no, God can’t make a rock that is so heavy that he can’t lift it. We’re just saying God can’t do anything that is outside of his power. We’re saying Job 42:2, we know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted, and that means there’s nothing, no rock, nothing you can do that’s outside of your character outside of your power outside of your ability. That means he can’t even make a rock that you can’t lift because you are limitless with regard to power.