Four Things That Even God Calls Impossible
by Pastor Gene
‘If God can do anything, can He create a rock so heavy that He can’t lift it,’ asks the clever sceptic. ‘Maybe not, but He can certainly create one heavy enough to drop on your irreverent head,’ my snarky flesh wants to answer! Augustine was famously asked by a student what God was doing before He created the heavens and the earth? “Creating Hell, he said, “For people who ask questions like that!”
Embracing the impossible is dismissed by unbelievers as magical thinking, but it’s just part-and-parcel of the Christian life. Looking into the vast sea that is Scripture and working our way through its spindrift pages, we find over and over again that impossible ‘stuff’ is somehow made possible by God. In fact, we’re told that seeing things as ‘impossible’ is actually a hindrance to true discipleship and doing the work of the Kingdom.
“Nothing Will Be Impossible For You”
Remember the disciples’ inability to cast a demon from a tormented man?
“And when they came to the crowd, a man came up to him and, kneeling before him [Jesus], said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, and they could not heal him.” And Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith [ὀλιγοπιστία, ‘puny faith’]. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:14-20).
Or, think of Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man …
“And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:16-26).
Mary received a similar answer when she wondered how she, being a virgin, could possibly be pregnant.
“And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:35-37).
Oh yes indeed, embracing the impossible is just a part of the normal Christian life!
Four Truly Impossible Things
However, would you be surprised to learn that there are a few things that really are impossible? So impossible that even God calls them impossible in the Bible? Well, there are. I’ve found four and, interestingly enough, they’re all in the book of Hebrews.
Impossible Thing #1: It is impossible to find forgiveness for sins outside of the cross of Jesus Christ.
It pleased the Father to “reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven,” and to make “peace by the blood of [Jesus’] cross” (Colossians 1:20). There simply is no other way to find forgiveness for the sins that separate us from God. No sacrifice we make, no act of generosity, no expression of contrition will bring us back to the Father. Only the blood that Jesus shed upon the cross makes that possible.
“It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I [Jesus] have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book’” (Hebrews 10:4-6).
Forgiveness of sins without the blood of the cross? Forget it!
Impossible Thing #2: It is impossible to find salvation outside of Jesus Christ.
Because Jesus – and only Jesus – suffered for the forgiveness of our sins, salvation can only be found in Him. No other teacher, rabbi, guru, or prophet can deliver sinners into the Father’s hand.
That’s why if it were possible for believers to be truly saved and then somehow lose their salvation, they’d really be up the creek without a paddle! Why? Because, if the sacrifice of Jesus isn’t enough to save and keep us, there simply is no Plan B. Jesus would actually have to be re-crucified – a shameful, contemptuous and blasphemous idea!
“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
No, friends, the crucifixion of Jesus was more than sufficient to save our sinful souls and to save them completely! “He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him …” (Hebrews 7:25, NASB).
There is no other way and there is no other Savior. As Paul wrote, “We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).
I think this is why Paul was amazed at the sectarianism that was sprouting up around various teachers in Corinth:
“It has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:11-13)
So, wanna try something truly impossible? Try getting to Heaven without Jesus!
Impossible Thing #3: It is impossible for God to lie.
Hebrews 6:18: “… it is impossible for God to lie …” ‘Nuff said?
This being true means that we can trust every one of God’s beautiful promises to us. (And that we should take seriously each of His warnings!)
Impossible Thing #4: It is impossible to please God without faith.
Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
We can’t please God in our flesh, we just can’t.
We can’t please Him unless we walk in faith, believing that He is present and is working in every situation.
The World’s Response
So, there they are. Four truly impossible things.
But what really amazes me is this: while the world refuses to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Creator, it insists on believing each of these four impossible things!
- Many believe that – if they have a sin problem at all – it can be solved in any number of ways, even by just being a ‘good person.’
- They believe that there are many ways to Heaven, through many so-called gods or ‘spiritual’ paths. The Bible, however, could not be clearer: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
- They reject the truth of God’s Word, the very words of the God for whom it is impossible to lie.
- And, they think that they can please God – that they can ‘be OK’ with Him – without first coming to Him by faith.
May those of us who truly know Him labor to help them see!
To consider …
- How do these four ‘impossible’ things make you feel?
- Why do you think the world refuses to believe God at His word, yet embraces these four impossible things?
Consider the up-side-down prophecy of Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
- What can we learn from Jesus’ response to the inability of His disciples?
(Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”)
- What can we learn from Jesus’ response to the question of His disciples?
(When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”)
- Three of the four things that God calls impossible deal with salvation and His own truthfulness. But the fourth speaks to something that should be of daily concern to every follower of Jesus: pleasing God.
What do you think the writer of Hebrews meant by saying, “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him”?
What does “faith” mean here?
Why does He use the phrase, “draw near”?
Notice the two things that those who would draw near “MUST” believe: (1) “that He exists,” and (2) “that He rewards those who seek him.” Why would the writer specifically emphasize these two aspects of faith?
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