Is God limited?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Herald, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Herald

    Herald
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    In another thread there is a sidebar discussion going on about whether God is limited. In other words, are there things that God cannot do? To amplify the question even further, is there anything that our sovereign and omnipotent God cannot do? If God is omnipotent (all powerful) then there is nothing that God is incapable of doing. He possess infinite power. He created the world just by a word (Gen. 1:3). But just because God is capable of doing anything, does it necessarily follow that God can do anything? It is a nuanced question to be sure. No suspense here. I believe scripture reveals that God does have limitations; self-imposed limitations. Do not misunderstand me. They are very real limitations, but they are self-imposed; God limiting Himself. There are other limitations that God faces; namely those of His character. First, let us look at God's character limitations.

    God is immutable (unchangeable)

    [6]*“For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.
    (Malachi 3:6 ESV)

    [8]*Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
    (Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

    God cannot lie

    [18]*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 ESV)

    [6]*Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
    (John 14:6 ESV)

    God cannot sin

    [5]*You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
    (1 John 3:5 ESV)

    [16]*since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
    (1 Peter 1:16 ESV)

    [13]*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 ESV)

    Next, let us look at God's self-limitations:

    God took human form (veiled His deity)

    [5]*Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6]*who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7]*but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8]*And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

    (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)

    God is limited by His word (promises)

    [20]*Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. [21]*And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. [22]*While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

    (Genesis 8:20-22 ESV)

    [16]*“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

    (John 3:16 ESV)
     
  2. saturneptune

    saturneptune
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    Can God commit suicide?
     
  3. HisWitness

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    according to some views(they dont even know that it does)God is very much limited(but the answer is NO God is NOT limited in any way,shape,or form) :)
     
  4. HisWitness

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    God is still not limited--He chooses how to execute his power in the way it pleases him :) He still has all power to do as he pleases :) To me or you it might seem as though he is limited but in reality He is all powerful :)
     
  5. Herald

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    In my OP "limited" should not be considered a negative, especially in the things God cannot do.
     
  6. Winman

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    A little bit of a misrepresentation of what I said. I said at times that God limits himself, as when God wrestled Jacob and Jacob prevailed.

    Gen 32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
    25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
    26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
    27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
    28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
    29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
    30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

    In this story God appeared as a man and wrestled with Jacob. Jacob prevailed in this match. In verse 30 we learn this man was God.

    Now, I don't believe God "threw" this fight, I believe Jacob really won. God is not a liar, and God said that Jacob prevailed.

    You can dismiss this scripture if you want, I accept it at face value. I am not saying I truly understand how God limits himself, but obviously he did.

    We are also told that no man can look on God and live, and yet Moses spoke to God face to face as friends do.

    Exo 33:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

    Obviously God limited himself here, or Moses would have died.

    Exo 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

    This is just 9 verses later, in the same chapter, and God tells Moses he cannot look at his face and live. But we were just told in verse 11 that Moses and God spoke face to face.

    How can this not be a contradiction?

    I believe the answer is that God appeared in a limited form to men so that they would not be killed. In this limited form God is not necessary omniscient or omnipotent. We read of God eating, sleeping, etc...

    Jesus is God and appeared in a limited form. He needed to eat and sleep and all the normal functions men perform. He could physically die.

    So, I did not say God is limited, I said God at times limits himself.
     
  7. Herald

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    It was not about what you said. It was about the topic in general.
     
  8. HisWitness

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    I think in that between God and Jacob that God was illustrating how strong of a will jacob had--also proving that when God touches man that that strong will becomes of no use:)
    Also think not that God could have made himself stronger in the flesh if he wanted to win?--sure he could have God let Jacob win as i pointed out to emphasize the strong stubborn will of jacob :) And when God touched him he MELTED in his own strengh :)
     
  9. HisWitness

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    Another way to look at it is that God has all power and how ever he chooses to use it is up to him-

    We do not have all power and we cant do anything and everything as God.

    So therefore God is NOT limited he just chooses to do as it pleases him--but he can do anything and everything if he wanted :)

    We are the limited ones--we cant do everything and anything as God :)
     
    #9 HisWitness, Jan 18, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2013
  10. saturneptune

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    We understand God as much as He wills and reveals. If we could understand the total depths of the Lord, we would see how low down on the graph we are now. Our minds are finite. It must be very amusing to the Lord to see barbaric debates about Himself amongst fallen, flawed, mortals. God is the Creator, Ordainer, mover and shaker of the universe, and we presume to understand His innermost attributes?
     
  11. Herald

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    I fear you are being a bit extreme. The study of theology has, as its end, the purpose of understanding God better. Yes. We do have finite minds, but God wants us to use them for His glory. When we consider that God's nature is holy, it profits us to know that He is neither capable of sin, nor does He cause anyone to sin. Because God never breaks His word (thus, He cannot lie) we can trust Him implicitly. So, this is not a barbaric debate; it is an exercise to uncover more great truths about our even greater God. When we ponder these truths they should move us to action. After all, that is God's purpose for us:

    [10]*For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)​
     
  12. saturneptune

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    I agree with all you said about God. Also, the word barbaric is not between the debaters, but a comparison of our knowledge and the acutal knowledge of God. Maybe a bad comparison.
     
    #12 saturneptune, Jan 18, 2013
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  13. Herald

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    Thank you for the explanation. One does tend to get a bit paranoid on this board! :tonofbricks:
     
  14. righteousdude2

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    God is Only Limited by....

    ....man!

    I think we must not only be a huge disappointment for Him, many times throughout the day, but also we must be extremely frustrating as we allow theology, intellect, ignorance, and lack of pure faith to stand between Him and ALL that He wanted to do; and could've don; but had to hold back from doing because of our inability to step out of the box after we turned things over to Him in prayer, and then took those same things back.

    Heaven will not be like earth [which is truly a training ground for all of us]. Once we arrive in Glory, we will clearly see all of our mistaken doctrines, rules, policies, teachings, understandings and our biased theologies and just what these things really cost us in this life as to what God could've and would've done for us, had we just not got into His way. :(

    Eternity will be a place where we will not be trying to lean unto our own understandings, but rather we will just be involved with what is happening, sort of like "No questions asked!"

    As we read in Proverbs 3:5 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding..."

    Our spirits will be uninhibited, and we will not hold back from enjoying, and enjoining in with others, as we spontaneously praise and worship God on high!
     
    #14 righteousdude2, Jan 18, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2013
  15. Tom Butler

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    Despite the assertion by the writer of Hebrews that God cannot lie, I understand the reluctance to say that an omnipotent God can't do something.

    If we couch all this in terms of God's acting consistently with his nature, it may shed some light on the subject. If one is uncomfortable with saying that God cannot act contrary to his nature, then let's simply say that He DOES NOT act contrary to his nature. The result is the same. We don't have to wrestle with the question of whether he can or can't. He simply won't. Even if He can, He won't, because He is immutable--he does not change.

    For God to act contrary to His nature wold represent a change. And God doesn't change.
     
  16. Yeshua1

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    Would say that God can do ALL Things that would be consistent with His nature and Attributes! He cannot lie, give false teachings, not save thiose whom He chose in Christ to become saved etc!
     
  17. Yeshua1

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    God cannot do anything that violates either His nature or His attributes!
    "Even " God is bound to keep His own moral law, as they reflect His very natures of being Holy/True etc!
     

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