Attributes of God: Immutable

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 11, 2015 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of the most important attributes and characteristics of God is that he is immutable, that is, he does not change. God does not change. Let me repeat that: God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And it is this fact that he does not change is what allows us to depend on him.

Take a moment to read Hebrews 6:17-19. The context of this passage is talking about the promise made to Abraham, that through him all peoples will be blessed. This passage also references that when a man makes a vow he will appeal to a greater authority. This provides the person receiving the promise that if it is broken, they can appeal to that higher authority to see it is done. But how can God make a vow then if he must appeal to a higher authority? The answer is this: he appeals to himself. When God makes a vow, everything that makes God “God” is put on the line. Pay attention to Hebrews 6:18. It is impossible for God to lie.

Many skeptics complain about the character of God being used to define Truth, because that makes the standard arbitrary to what God says. The problem with this position is that such an idea places the standard of truth upon themselves which is… arbitrary. The difference between God being the standard and man being the standard is that God does not change. God’s character does not change and he does not lie, therefore his standards do not change.

One of the most annoying things when dealing with business or politics is the changing of policies. We learn one system on how to fill out papers and then on what seems to be a whim, they change the whole system without letting anyone know until after the fact. It’s extremely frustrating when the system changes on you. College students hate it when the degree plan changes on them and they have to take a whole new set of classes or a number of the classes they took were for naught. Now there are understandable changes because of a flaw found in the system, but especially when politics is involved, some changes have nothing to do with fixing flaws in a system. More often than not, they create more flaws than fix them. But God does not do that, because he does not change.

With God we can rely on him and depend upon him. We know that he does not make a law and then without purpose make it totally different. Wait! What about the Mosaic Law and the Law of Grace? Did not Jesus do away with many of the laws in the Old Testament? Didn’t God change at that point? Actually, no, he didn’t.

Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” What many of us do not see is that the Law of Grace was always there. It was not something new. It was always there. It was always part of God’s plan from the very beginning. He did not have Plan A, realized that mankind blew it, and come up with Plan B. No, he had Plan A from the very beginning. This is why Paul says Christ was crucified from the foundations of the earth. Before God even created everything, Jesus dying on the cross was part of the plan from the beginning.

Now before I go further, I want to make it clear that when we say “God does not change,” we are talking about his character, his personality. There are plenty of cases one can make of God changing his mind, but when he does, he does so in accordance to his never-changing character and he does so without lying. When the Israelites rebelled at Mt. Sinai and built the golden calf, God told Moses he would destroy them all and start over with Moses. That was consistent with his character of justice. But when Moses interceded for them, he relented, consistent with his character of mercy. God offered mercy to Sodom and Gomorrah. He spared Nineveh when they repented. It seems contradictory but God plays role of both loving Father and criminal judge. To be loving, he must enforce the law he gave. At the same time, he must also enforce the promises he made. That enforcement of promises is what we call faithfulness, which I will discuss next week.

So what does it mean for us that God is immutable, that he does not change? It means we can take solace in him. It means we can take shelter in him and we know he will sustain us through the storm. It means when God tells us we need to do something, he will come through and see that it will get done. It means we have an anchor that tells us precisely where we are in the ocean of life. It also creates boundaries that defines what we can do and where we should not go.

I have heard it said that if you take a group of kids and put them in a fenced playground, they will take full advantage of the area given. But if you put them in an unmarked area, generally, they will play for a little bit but then tuck themselves closer to the point where they were ‘set loose’ because they don’t know what they are allowed to do or not. Yes, some will wander far out, but it is easily seen that as humans, we need structure. We need rules and boundaries. That is not to limit us, but to give us a sense of identity. Frank Peretti took his time showing how this concept works in his book Piercing the Darkness. In this book, the main character, Sally Roe, spent much of her life living as she wanted and teaching others to live without boundaries, but as she encounters Christians for the first time, she is pointed to Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible. But Psalm 119, of its 178 verses, only two of them do not have some reference to God’s orders, his instructions, his laws, or his precepts. Take time to read this chapter. It is God’s laws that not only tell us who we are and where we are, they also give us the freedom to do far greater and more things than we could without.

God does not change. He is not the author of confusion. He says what he said, and meant what he said. He said it so it could be understood, followed, and lived. He knows how to communicate the same word to all peoples of all times of all languages. We can trust him and count on him to be the same tomorrow as he has been throughout all of history.

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