Is anything impossible for God?

We know by faith, from Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, that nothing is impossible for God. But we also know that God cannot sin, cannot do evil, cannot be unfaithful, etc. All of these things that God cannot do is summed up by the single statement that God cannot contradict His own Nature. Yet this is never due to a lack of power, but instead is due to the faithfulness of God. He never contradicts His own infinite perfect good Nature.

[Esther]
{7:20} Now Mordecai beseeched the Lord, remembering all his works,
{7:21} and he said, “O Lord, Lord, almighty King, truly all things are possible for you, and there is no one who is able to resist your will, if you would determine to save Israel.
{7:22} You have created heaven and earth, and everything that is contained under the cycle of heaven.
{7:23} You are Lord of all, and there is no one who can resist your majesty.

God created everything in heaven and on earth, all spiritual things and all material things, out of nothing. How God could create everything out of nothing is beyond our imagining. We can conceive of the idea, but we cannot give any explanation as to how. It is a miracle, and miracles are always to some extent inexplicable. Creating everything out of nothing does not contradict God’s goodness; it is not evil to create. And all that God created is good. It is impossible for God to create anything that is evil. All the evil that is in the universe is due to free will, not due to the creative power of God.

Notice that the power of God extends even to acts that are entirely beyond what we can explain. Like the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, we say ‘How can this be done?’ And yet we believe, beyond reason, that it can be done. The perfect Virgin Mary had no idea as to how she could bear a child and yet remain a virgin. She believed beyond what she could understand. So we must NEVER claim that God is unable to do something, merely because we cannot imagine how He would do it.

[Matthew]
{17:18} Then the disciples approached Jesus privately and said, “Why were we unable to cast him out?”
{17:19} Jesus said to them: “Because of your unbelief. Amen I say to you, certainly, if you will have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it shall move. And nothing will be impossible for you.

[Mark]
{9:22} But Jesus said to him, “If you are able to believe: all things are possible to one who believes.”

Is this life, if we have faith, we can obtain miracles from God. What are the limits of those miracles. Nearly the same as the limit, if it can be called that, of the miraculous power of God. We cannot obtain a miracle if it contradicts the good Nature of God, or if it contradicts His perfection. But the miracles we can obtain fall within much the same range of what God can possibly do. For the same expression ‘nothing will be impossible’ is said of us, if we have faith, that is even said of the omnipotence of God.

[Matthew]
{26:39} And continuing on a little further, he fell prostrate on his face, praying and saying: “My Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass away from me. Yet truly, let it not be as I will, but as you will.”

[Mark]
{14:35} And when he had proceeded on a little ways, he fell prostrate on the ground. And he prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him.
{14:36} And he said: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this chalice from me. But let it be, not as I will, but as you will.”

Jesus said to His Father that all things are possible to Him. And yet He also said to the Father, ‘if it is possible’. That the human nature of Christ would be spared from his Passion and Crucifixion was possible to God by his power; it would not contradict the Goodness of God. But it was not fitting, and so it would contradict the Perfection of God.

The distinction is important: between acts that God cannot do because they contradict His Goodness, and acts that God cannot do because they contradict His Perfection.

In arguing for the Immaculate Conception, this saying was used: ‘potuit; decuit; ergo fecit’ (He was able; it was fitting; therefore, He did it). In other words, the Immaculate Conception does not contradict the Goodness of God. And the Immaculate Conception is fitting to God’s perfect plan of salvation, and so it does not contradict His Perfection. Therefore, God did accomplish the Immaculate Conception.

Similarly, concerning miracles, we can assert that if an act is not contrary to the Goodness of God, and not contrary to the Perfection of God, then it is possible for God. For God is never prevented from performing any act by a lack of power. God is able to do all that is Good and Perfect. God cannot perform acts that are evil. For God is Goodness itself. God cannot perform acts that are foolish. For God is Perfect. Otherwise, even if we cannot imagine how, God can do it.

[Hebrews]
{6:17} In this matter, God, wanting to reveal more thoroughly the immutability of his counsel to the heirs of the promise, interposed an oath,
{6:18} so that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have the strongest solace: we who have fled together so as to hold fast to the hope set before us.

{10:4} For it is impossible for sins to be taken away by the blood of oxen and goats.

It is impossible for God to lie, because lying is evil. God cannot contradict His own Goodness. It is impossible for God take away sin by the blood of oxen and goats, because such a plan of salvation would be foolish. God cannot contradict His own Perfection.

As St. Thomas says: “there does not fall under the scope of God’s omnipotence anything that implies a contradiction.”

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator

Articles on Catholic Ethics
My work with Sacred Scripture

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