02 September 2013

Resting in the Immutability of God

photo credit: write_adam via photopin cc
To attempt to wrap one's brain around the innumerable and magnificent attributes of our God is a feat which shall never be fully accomplished this side of glory. Yet our mighty God, the Creator and Sovereign King, has revealed Himself in His Word. And what has He revealed? His goodness, His love, His righteousness, His holiness, His faithfulness, His sovereignty, His forgiveness, His justice, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His salvation, His omnipresence, His graciousness, His perfection. The list could go on and on.

There is a marvelous attribute of the Lord that is oft-neglected, however, and that is His unchangeableness—His immutability. The perfection and the eternality of God requires that He possess this attribute.
For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (Mal 3:6)
Says Puritan thinker Stephen Charnock:
Immutability belongs to all the attributes of God. Every one of his perfections is immutable, and none of them will appear glorious without this beam. How cloudy would his blessedness be if he were changeable. How dim would be his wisdom if it might be obscured. How feeble would his power be if it were capable of languishing. O how mercy would lose its luster if it could change into wrath. Unchangeableness is a thread that runs through the whole web of God's attributes to his eternal glory. (Stephen Charnock, The Existence & Attributes of God)
In his sermon, "The Immutability of God," Charles Spurgeon teaches that God does not change in His essence:
We cannot tell you what Godhead is. We do not know what substance that is which we call God. It is an existence, it is a being; but what that is, we know not. However, whatever it is, we call it his essence, and that essence never changes. The substance of mortal things is ever changing. . . . All creatures change. Man, especially as to his body, is always undergoing revolution. . . . But God is perpetually the same. He is not composed of any substance or material, but is spirit—pure, essential, and ethereal spirit—and therefore he is immutable. He remains everlastingly the same.
Nor does God change in His attributes:
Whatever the attributes of God were of old, that they are now; and of each of them we may sing "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen." Was he powerful? Was he the mighty God when he spake the world out of the womb of nonexistence? Was he the Omnipotent when he piled the mountains and scooped out the hollow places for the rolling deep? Yes, he was powerful then, and his arm is unpalsied now, he is the same giant in his might; the sap of his nourishment is undried, and the strength of his soul stands the same for ever.
Nor do His plans change:
That man began to build, but was not able to finish, and therefore he changed his plan, as every wise man would do in such a case; he built upon a smaller foundation and commenced again. But has it ever been said that God began to build but was not able to finish? Nay.
Likewise, His promises are forever:
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 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.
For those who hate God, His threatenings do not change:
If every promise stands fast, and every oath of the covenant is fulfilled, hark thee, sinner!—mark the word—hear the death-knell of thy carnal hopes; see the funeral of thy fleshly trustings. Every threatening of God, as well as every promise shall be fulfilled. Talk of decrees! I will tell you of a decree: "He that believeth not shall be damned." That is a decree, and a statute that can never change. Be as good as you please, be as moral as you can, be as honest as you will, walk as uprightly as you may,—there stands the unchangeable threatening: "He that believeth not shall be damned."
And for those who love God, for those who have been chosen by His grace, the objects of His love shall never falter:
The objects of everlasting love never change. Those whom God hath called, he will justify; whom he has justified, he will sanctify; and whom he sanctifies, he will glorify.
photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc 
Charles Hodge explains the immutability of God this way:
As an infinite and absolute Being, self-existent and absolutely independent, God is exalted above all the causes of and even above the possibility of change. Infinite space and infinite duration cannot change. They must ever be what they are. So God is absolutely immutable in his essence and attributes. He can neither increase nor decrease. He is subject to no process of development, or of self-evolution. His knowledge and power can never be greater or less. He can never be wiser or holier, or more righteous or more merciful than He ever has been and ever must be. He is no less immutable in his plans and purposes. Infinite in wisdom, there can be no error in their conception; infinite in power, there can be no failure in their accomplishment. (Source)
So as we praise Him for His love, His goodness, His provision, His sovereignty, and as we praise Him for His salvation, let us not forget to praise Him for His immutability. What a fearful thing it would be to face a fickle and capricious deity! But the God who created the universe, the Christ who bore the punishment for the sins of men, is the God whom you serve this day, dear Christian. Neither He nor His Word shall ever change.
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM;" and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you." (Exod 3:14) 
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Num 23:19)
Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind. (1 Sam 15:29)
The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. (Ps 33:11)
Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, and your years will not come to an end. (Ps 102:25–27)
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. (Luke 21:33) 
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13:8) 
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (Jas 1:17) 
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (Rev 1:8)
Why, then, would you not lean upon His unchanging strength and stand upon the sure foundation of His Word? Why would you seek anything more through fleeting and fanciful emotions? Rest with confidence upon the unchanging Truth and you shall rest well forever.

Further Reading
Prayer and Providence
God Speaks, but How?
Why Do We Believe the Bible?

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