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Daily devotional - The Gift of God's Word - Someone, wearing a gray sweater, holding a Bible to their chest. Daily devotional - The Gift of God's Word - Someone, wearing a gray sweater, holding a Bible to their chest.

Questions and Answers | Nothing is too Hard for You

Jeremiah 32:17 says about God: “Nothing is too hard for you.” Still, I’ve always wondered about an old paradox: Can God create a stone too heavy for Him to lift? If we say “no” then there’s something that God can’t create. But if we say “yes” then there’s something that God can’t lift. What’s the answer?

First, we know that God is all-powerful. As Gabriel assured Mary: “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37 CEB). Even so, the “stone paradox” helps us comprehend God’s power more accurately.

Given that God can generate any physical force, no stone should be “too heavy for Him to lift.” To arrive at an answer, we must look more carefully at the question. A truly immovable object would remain stubbornly unaffected by physical forces of any magnitude. The number 7, for instance, is immovable because it is not subject to physics. It lacks physical properties, such as having a length or mass. Therefore, God cannot move the number 7 because it is nonphysical. By its very nature it is not something that is able to be moved. This does not indicate, however, that God lacks power. He can do anything. But moving a number is not a possible thing to do.

However, since a stone is a physical object, we would agree that (in principle) it can be moved. Since God can generate any degree of physical force, an immovable stone could never exist. Such a stone would be both subject to physics and unaffected by physical forces, which is a contradiction. We can conclude that God could not create a stone too heavy for Him to lift. While God can do anything, creating an immovable stone is not something to do.

The phrase “immovable stone” is a nonsense phrase, just as the phrase “square circle” would be nonsense. Our inability to draw or coherently imagine a square circle—that is, a closed two-dimensional figure with four equal sides that meet at right angles and every point on the figure is at equal distance from the center—is not a criticism of our ability to draw or imagine. There is literally nothing to draw or imagine, since the phrase itself is a sheer contradiction.

C. S. Lewis made a similar observation, “Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask...are like that.”

BY Sanjay Merchant

Sanjay Merchant is Professor of Theology at Moody Bible Institute and a teaching pastor at Northshore Christian Church in Everett, Washington. He earned his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University School of Religion, and Master’s degrees from Biola University. He enjoys helping his students wrestle with hard questions of the faith, teaching courses on philosophy, theology, and apologetics. Sanjay and his wife, Erin, have four children and reside in Roselle, Illinois.

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