Immutability: “It is that perfection of God by which he is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises.” ~ Louis Berkhof (1)
I. God is Immutable in His Perfections (Attributes)
· Malachi 3:6 : “I am the Lord, I change not”
· James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."
“In him there is no change in time, for he is eternal; nor in location, for he is omnipresent; nor in essence, for he is pure being. … This is why, in Scripture God is so often called the Rock (Deut.32:4, 15,18, 30,31,37; I Sam. 2:2, 2 Sam. 22:3, 32, Ps. 19:14; 31:3; 62:2, 7; 73:26;) ” (2)
“God is immutable in His essence. His nature and being are infinite, and so, subject to no mutations. There never was a time when He was not; there never will come a time when he shall cease to be. God has neither evolved, grown, nor improved. All that He is today, he has ever been, and ever will. …He cannot change for the better, for he is already perfect; and being perfect he cannot change for the worse. Altogether unaffected by anything outside Himself, improvement or deterioration is impossible. He is perpetually the same. He only can say “I am that I am” Ex.3:14 (3)
II. God is Immutable in His Purposes
· Isaiah 14:24: The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,
· Ecclesiastes 3:14: “ I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.
“The divine immutability should not be understood as implying immobility, as if there were no movement in God. It is even customary in theology to speak of God as actus purus, a God who is always in action. The Bible teaches us that god enters into manifold relations with man and a, as it were, lives their life with them. There is change round about Him, change in the relations of men to Him, but there is no change in His Being, His attributes, his purpose, his motives of action or His promises. The purpose to create was eternal with Him and there was no change Him when this purpose was realized by a singer eternal act of His will. The incarnation brought no change in the Being perfections of God, nor in His purpose, for it was His eternal good pleasure to send the Son of His llove into the world.” (4)
III. God is Immutable in His Promises
· Hebrews 6:17-18 - “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”
“God is unchanging in his promises. Ah! we love to speak about the sweet promises of God; but if we could ever suppose that one of them could be changed, we would not talk anything more about them. If I thought that the notes of the bank of England could not be cashed next week, I should decline to take them; and if I thought that God's promises would never be fulfilled—if I thought that God would see it right to alter some word in his promises—farewell Scriptures! I want immutable things: and I find that I have immutable promises when I turn to the Bible: for, "by two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie," he hath signed, confirmed, and sealed every promise of his. The gospel is not "yea and nay," it is not promising today, and denying tomorrow; but the gospel is "yea, yea," to the glory of God.” (5)
IV. Does God Ever Change His Mind? But what about the Scriptures that say God did change his mind?
· Jonah 3:10: “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”
“In the cases of God being sorry that he had made man, or that he had made Saul king, these too can be understood as expressions of God’s present displeasure toward the sinfulness of man. In neither case is the language strong enough to require us to think that if God could start again and act differently, he would in fact not create man or not make Saul king. It can instead imply that God’s previous action led to events that, in the short term, caused him sorrow, but that nonetheless in the long term would ultimately achieve his good purposes. This is somewhat analogous to a human father who allows his child to embark on a course he knows will bring much sorrow, both to the parent and to the child, but who allows it nonetheless, because he knows that greater long-term good will come from it.” (6)
V. The False Teaching of Process Theology
VI. Finding comfort in Our Unchanging God!
“This doctrine of divine immutability is such a foundational truth that you wouldn't think anyone who seriously claims to be a Christian could possibly deny it. But that's not the case. One of the most spiritually deadly and anti-biblical developments in the world of theology over the past century is a view known as Process Theology . The basic idea is that God Himself is in process, constantly shifting--becoming something other than what he used to be. And one of the key arguments, of course, is the old canard that the God of the Old Testament is different from the New Testament God. The idea is that in the Old Testament YHWH was more stern, more destructive, more intolerant than the more gracious and kindly God Jesus spoke about in the New Testament…..Of course that is pure poppycock.” (7)
· Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
“What peace it brings to the Christian’s heart to realize that our Heavenly Father never differs from Himself. In coming to Him at any time we need not wonder whether we shall find Him in a receptive mood. He is always receptive to misery and need, as well as to love and faith. He does not keep office hours nor set aside periods when He will see no one. Neither does He change His mind about anything. Today, this moment, He feels toward His creatures, toward babies, toward the sick, the fallen, the sinful, exactly as He did when He sent His only-begotten Son into the world to die for mankind.” (8)
“O Christ our Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
As conies to their rock, so have we run to Thee for safety;
as birds from their wanderings, so have we flown to Thee for peace.
Chance and change are busy in our little world of nature and
men, but in Thee we find no variableness nor shadow of turning.
We rest in Thee without fear or doubt and face our tomorrows without anxiety. Amen.” (9)
In what way does God’s unchangeableness bring you comfort
in your present circumstances?
(2) Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Bavinck; Vol 2 pge 156, Baker Academic 2004
(3) The Attributes of God by Arthur Pink; pg 37, Baker Books 1996
(4) ibid: Berkhof; pg 59
(5) “The Immutability of God”- Sermon by Charles Spurgeon -1855(6) Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem; pg 165; Zondervan; 2000
(7) Phil Johnson: "An Anchor For The Year"
8) Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer pg 57; Harper and Row 1975
(9) ibid; A.W. Tozer