In May, I wrote a meditation titled What God Cannot Do. Tonight, reading A. W. Tozer’s Paths to Power, I discovered Tozer had a list of his own.
Failure to distinguish the part of God from the part of man in salvation has prevented countless seekers from finding peace, and left whole sections of the church of Christ powerless for long periods of time.
Let it be boldly stated that there are some things which only God can do, and for us to attempt to do them is to waste our efforts; and there are other things which only man can do, and for us to ask God to do them is to waste our prayers. It is vain for us to try to do the work which can only be done by sovereign grace; it is equally vain for us to implore God to do what has been commanded by sovereign authority.
In the things-which-God-cannot-do category is this:
GOD CANNOT DO OUR REPENTING FOR US:
In our efforts to magnify grace we have so preached the truth as to convey the impression that repentance is a work of God. This is a grave mistake…God has commanded all men to repent; it is a work which only they can do. It is morally impossible for one person to repent for another. Even Christ could not do this. He could die for us, but He cannot do our repenting for us.
GOD CANNOT BELIEVE FOR US:
Faith is a gift of God, to be sure, but whether or not we shall act upon that faith lies altogether within our own power. True belief requires that we change our attitude toward God.
Unbelief is a great sin; or more accurately stated, it is an evidence of sins unconfessed. Repent and believe is the order. Faith will follow repentance, and salvation will be the outcome.
ONLY GOD CAN DO:
Among the things which only God can do, of first importance to us is the work of redemption. Salvation is personal. Salvation is the work of God in the heart, made possible by the work of God on the Cross.
No man can forgive his own sins; no man can regenerate his own heart; no man can declare himself justified and clean. All this is the work of God in man, flowing out of the work which Christ has already done for man. A. W. Tozer