It’s early in the morning. There’s a sound of soft drumming, paired with gentle cymbals. A worship leader croons sweetly, encouraging you to adore the Lord. The smoke machine is cranked up to 11. You can almost smell the fumes through your screen. Thanks to the pandemic, Social Media Church™ scenes like this one pervade the web. One particular and widely shared streaming service of daily prayer starts this way. Nigerian, American, South African, and British people tune in for 15 minutes of musical preamble, followed by a countdown. Then the show begins. Two people are praying in tongues. There’s a pastor and his ‘Hype Man’. But I can already tell you what the big takeaway will be: ‘What God cannot do doesn’t exist!’
‘What God Cannot Do Doesn’t Exist’
Vague blanket prophecies are made throughout the program, targeting no one in particular. They command panic attacks and other ailments to “break by fire”. The pastor also communicates directly with the Spirit of God, who gives him specific messages for unknown persons. One fine morning, the pastor has a word of knowledge for bereaved parents. Phrases in tongues interject each sentence.
Any doubt is met with that rallying cry: ‘What God cannot do does not exist’.
The mantra of this assembly is ‘What God cannot do doesn’t exist’. They wield it as a weapon against all types of infirmities, misfortunes, and personal disasters. Any cynicism, unbelief, or doubt is met with that rallying cry: ‘What God cannot do doesn’t exist, sis’.
Error Mixed With Truth
I enjoyed a few sneering, self-righteous chuckles whenever I heard this. For it was easy to dismiss and disregard as more Word of Faith weirdness. But I could no longer ignore it when people I knew started spouting this guff.
Acknowledging that there are things God can’t do does not impugn his capabilities.
The appeal is somewhat understandable. For kernels of truth are present among the dross. There seems to be a fair understanding of what mercy is, “If you know mercy, your prayer every day will be, ‘God show me mercy’,” says one pastor. Hurting people find heaps of empathy for seemingly impossible situations. They receive affirmation and care. Miracles happen. All of this is thanks to a God who they believe can do all things.
But as I will show below, ‘what God cannot do’ does in fact exist. Contrary to this mantra, there are certainly things that God can’t do. Yet acknowledging this does not impugn his capabilities or might. Instead, it adjusts our perspective of who he truly is.
Two Things God Cannot Do
In one of his sermons, Burk Parsons lists ten things God cannot do. For Parsons, the modern misunderstanding of the power of God is merely a rehash of an ancient heresy. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Two examples of what God cannot do are worthy of note: God cannot be created; and he cannot lie.
Aseity is an attribute of God that describes his uncreated, eternal nature. Humans do not give God life, nor do we “release” him to do things for us. He has life in himself (John 5:26). God’s aseity is particularly precious in an insecure, unstable world rife with trials and temptations. When all seems lost, this is an attribute that you can hang your hat on. His existence depends on no one and nothing outside of his perfect self.
Humans do not give God life, nor do we ‘release’ him to do things for us.
Secondly, God can’t lie (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2). For Word of Faith proponents, this might sound strange. But the Creator of the universe and everything in it cannot utter an untrue word. You’d be better off trying to square a circle than trying to catch God in a lie. Therefore, there are at least two things God cannot do. This brings into question the mantra, ‘What God cannot do doesn’t exist’.
Rediscover The True Power Of God
Social Media Churches are often appealing and plausible because they tend to trade in distortions and half-baked truths. But a clear understanding of the power of God is what is at stake when it comes to the erroneous ways of thinking I’m addressing in this article.
A better approach to the topic of God’s power might involve considering the importance of names. The names of God, like Jehovah Mekoddishkem (Exodus 31:13), have meaning and value. They give us a glimpse into his nature. For example, Psalm 91:14-15 shows us that knowing the Lord’s name is part of what gives us protection. But it wouldn’t be right to make ill-use of his names.
God knows the end from the beginning. He cannot be overcome.
The Apostles’ Creed confesses belief in God the Father Almighty, ‘El-Shaddai’. Until learning that it was from a dubious source, ‘The God of Angel Armies’ would bring a tear to my eye during worship whenever the church choir got to the chorus. The Being closest to us Christians is in charge of heavenly hosts. He knows the end from the beginning. He cannot be overcome. Indeed, these are reasons to rejoice.
‘El-Shaddai’ is a name God used to reveal himself to Abraham and Jacob (Genesis 17:1; 35:11). The name connotes sufficiency and total might. In ‘El-Shaddai,’ we also find God’s ability to overpower all his enemies (Exodus 15:6). Christian counselor Patrick Doyle says, “God promised to take care of us, and no one is going to stop him.” Nothing can thwart God’s plans (Psalm 115:3; Psalm 91:3, 4), no matter how dire the situation.
No One Commands God
But those preaching ‘what God cannot do doesn’t exist’ have many of us believing we can command God through various ‘declarations.’ Psalm 2 outlines the folly of this arrogance, telling us that the Father holds such foolishness in derision.
Perpetrators of, and participants in, these churches would do well to consider the book of Job, especially the chapters in which God asks Job some unanswerable questions. In Job 38:12-13, God asks if Job has commanded the morning. If the morning does not obey us, why do we think we can control illness and poverty?
God is not at our disposal; we are at his mercy.
Job’s response to the thundering of God comes a few chapters on, most of which is exceptionally enlightening (Job 42:2, 5-6). Job is humbled and affirms that nothing can get in the way of God’s purposes. Seeing God in a new light birthed in Job an appropriate self-loathing that caused him to repent. Please note he did not use this new knowledge to begin making declarative statements regarding the armies of heaven or any earthbound challenges.
The terrifying warning in Matthew 7:21 should motivate us to modify our response to God’s might. Like Paul, we ought to persuade others to believe the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:11). The incarnation, the death, and the miraculous resurrection of Jesus the Christ are what we must pin our hopes on. Not on signs and wonders.
Pray For His Will, Not Yours
The reason God is powerful is not to give us what we want. His power is not displayed for us to command him at will. Let’s not get kooky notions about our heavenly adoption. God is not at our disposal; we are at his mercy. Oswald Chambers put it like this: “God does not exist to answer our prayers, but by our prayers we come to discern the mind of God”. Let us long to know what God wants, that he may empower us to pursue his desires.