Don’t put God in a box. This idiom means you shouldn’t limit what God can do and don’t restrict Him by your unbelief. God is all-powerful and can do anything, don’t doubt His promises. But often it’s a way to shut down any discerning discussion about the Almighty. Someone says that God can do something or the other, and if you object because the Bible doesn’t say that, you may get the reply, “Don’t put God in a box!” Q.E.D.
Question – how do you know that God can do anything He wants? Who told you that? The Scriptures are God’s self-revelation to His people. We know about God because God has told us, in the Scripture, what He has chosen to reveal about Himself. He has revealed some of His divine perfections and aspects of His nature and character. The Lord has told us what He requires of us, the consequences of disobedience, and how He has graciously provided a means of pardon for the disobedient through faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory. I know from the Bible that there is one God in three persons, and I know that God is sovereign, holy, just, loving, and full of mercy and compassion. The Lord has revealed things about Himself, in the affirmative, meaning there are things He does and will do. And He told us about some things in the negative. In other words, things He will not or cannot do. Jesus telling the disciples that, “all things are possible” is defined by the passage’s context (God’s sovereign grace in salvation) but that verse is held alongside other verses that tell us God cannot tempt people, change, lie, or deny Himself (James 1:13; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews; 2 Timothy 2:13) to name a few.
If I told you that I could no longer dunk a basketball or run a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, I gave you some information about myself by telling you what I can’t do anymore. If you told others that I would not be a good candidate for power forward for WVU, is that “putting me in a box?” No, you would simply agree with the information I have already told you. You have a more accurate understanding of who I am by knowing something that I cannot do.
It would be arrogant and foolish for me to tell you what God can and cannot do – if God had not told us about Himself. The Lord has graciously told us that we might know, love, and worship Him. Notice that when Paul prays for the churches in the New Testament, one theme is that the believers would grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus (Philippians 1:9; Ephesians 3:19; Colossians 1:9). To know God through Christ isn’t to imagine what He might be like or assume that God will act the way we think He ought, but to meditate on what He has told us about Himself. Honor God by listening to Him tell us who He is.