The idea that God cannot do something, or that God is limited in His ability, is fairly common among Christians. Many think that God's ability to act is limited by man's “free will.” People often think that God either cannot override man's will or that He is incapable of making man change his will to conform to the will of God.
So what is it that prevents God from saving all mankind? 2 Peter 3:9 says, that He is not willing that any should be lost, or perish. Thus, if any are lost, it is not because it is the will of God.
The Apostle Paul says in 1 Tim. 2:4 that God “will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” This, too, defines the will of God for all men.
The problem is that evil men seem to thwart God's will, and God seems to be powerless to do anything about it. How powerful is God, anyway?
The first verse in the Bible establishes that God is the Creator of all things. Most people in the world believe this, but few people understand what this implies. It means that God OWNS all things by right of creation.
This is why God told Moses in Lev. 25:23, “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is Mine.” In other words, under Bible law, God holds the right of eminent domain.
God gave land inheritances to the families of Israel in the old land of Canaan and told them that they did not have the right to sell their property in perpetuity. If they incurred a debt, they could sell it until the Year of Jubilee, which occurred every 49 years (Lev. 25:8). This meant that a family could not lose their inheritance for more than a generation. It ensured that every citizen would have roots in the land.
The land belonged to God, so no man had the right to lose it forever. He was only capable, by his own will, to “lose” it temporarily, because that was the extent of his authority.
Now consider the fact that God created all men, both good and bad. In fact, He formed man of the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). God used building material that He created—and therefore owned. Does this not mean that God owns all men as well as all material things in the universe?
In the divine laws of liability God lays down the principle that a man is responsible for that which he owns. For example, if a farmer digs a well and neglects to take basic safety precautions and cover the pit, and if a neighbor's ox falls into that pit and is killed, the owner of the pit is liable and must pay damages to his neighbor (Ex. 21:33).
Again, if a man lights a fire and it gets out of hand and burns the neighbor's field, the man who lit the fire is liable, because he created the fire and therefore is its owner (Ex. 22:6). These are basic liability laws that define the will of God in areas of justice and responsibility between men.
This principle, when applied to the big picture, shows us that God is responsible for all of His creation—even for the bad things that happen. God is ultimately liable for all the evil that has occurred in the world. One cannot blame the devil, because the devil created nothing and owns nothing. One cannot ultimately blame bad men either, because the bad men did not create themselves.
In the case of the ox falling into the uncovered pit, the one who dug it cannot say in his defense, “That stupid ox fell into the pit by his own free will.” Such an argument makes no difference in the divine court. The only relevant fact in the case is that the one who dug the pit is responsible for it.
In the case of Adam and Eve, whether these are actual people or just prototype human beings, the Bible story makes it clear that God created them. The “tree” of the knowledge of good and evil, however men may interpret the story, provided the temptation, and the “serpent” was the tempter. God created both the tree and the serpent.
That means God, in effect, “dug a pit” and left it uncovered. That is, Adam and Eve—like the stupid ox—were given willful opportunity to stay away from the uncovered pit or not. Of course, man “fell” into the pit and died (became mortal).
So who is legally liable in the divine court? Well, God is, of course. Adam and Eve did not dig the pit, nor did they create the serpent. They were just too stupid to stay away from the pit. They fell, and they died. God's own law, then, demanded that the Owner of the pit pay fully for the death of the ox (Ex. 21:34).
In other words, God set up the law in such a way that He would make Himself liable for the fall of Adam and Eve. Did God know what He was doing? Of course He did. He knew from the beginning that the law would demand that He—the Creator and Owner of all—would have to pay the full penalty for sin.
That is why Jesus came to earth to pay the full penalty for sin. First of all, He loved His creation enough to do this (John 3:16). Secondly, He made it mandatory by law that He would have to do this. In that sense, the law was prophetic. It prophesied that God would have to be born as a man in order to be capable of dying for the sin of the world.