Immutability of God
A Short Series on His Incommunicable Attributes
NOTE: These notes were written for the podcast so I have not edited them for this format. I hope they’re a blessing a help regardless.
While there are many more of his incommunicable attributes we will cover just four in this part of the series, his Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and of course this program’s topic God’s immutability
We will begin our series on the moral attributes of God more specifically his immutability. For me, this is one of the more comforting attributes about the God that as I worship and will someday be in the presence of.
This means a lot to me knowing that while my character is flawed and that whilst in this body I am subject to many limitations God’s nature and character will not change. This is good news for the heavy-laden and heavy-hearted.
Some Considerations –
Process Theology – I wanted to touch briefly on a system of belief called Process Theology. This type of theology was developed from philosopher Alfred North Whitehead 1861 – 1947 “Process theology is the belief that the only absolute in the world is change. It is an essential attribute of God to affect and be affected by temporal processes contrary to all the forms of theism that hold that God in all respects non-temporal unchanging.”
In other words process, theology holds to the position that God is changing, as is the universe. Therefore, we as believers cannot have a certain knowledge of God it must be progressing as we learn more about him. In this system of theology, there are no absolutes. This leads to a denial of the absolutes of God’s immutability and truth.
Process theologians deny the Deity of Christ, therefore, muting the need for salvation through Christ alone.
But God did Change His Mind – What of those times where God appears to change his mind. Wouldn’t this imply a contradiction?
1) Jonah 3:10 – God put conditions on his judgment, Nineveh repented therefore God…
2) Genesis 6:5-6 – Repentance
These passages and others like them are not suggesting there was a change in the character of God only in his actions toward man. This is based on the actions of men in others they repented as commanded by God which got a stay of judgment. The use of the word repented as it relates to God is a term called anthropomorphism a term ascribing human feeling or emotion to God to show his attitude towards sin.
Sproul Describes it this way – When the Bible describes God for us, it uses human terms, because the only language God has by which to speak to us about Himself is our human language. The theological term for this is anthropomorphic language, which is the use of human forms and structures to describe God. When the Bible talks about God’s feet or the right arm of the Lord, we immediately see that as just a human way of speaking about God. But when we use more abstract terms such as repent, then we get all befuddled about it.
Sproul states further that – The biblical narratives in which God appears to repent or change His mind, are almost always narratives that deal with His threats of judgment and punishment. These threats are then followed by the repentance of the people or by the intercessory petitions of their leaders. God is not talked into “changing His mind.” Out of His gracious heart, He only does what He has promised to do all along – not punish sinners who repent and turn from their evil ways. He chooses not to do what He has every right to do.
By way of understanding, we know that God is omniscience and immutable with both of these clearly taught in scripture we can be assured of the many other attributes of God and his plan for man. To entertain the thought that God is learning and changing as time goes on and as man improves is to put us in a precarious place so far as our faith and hopes are concerned. The fact of the matter is much would come into dispute if we took the position that God can change and would undermine much if not all of what has been taught throughout the centuries.
What is the definition of Immutability?
“God cannot change to the better or worse – He is perfect.” God is exalted above all-cause, he can never be wiser, more holy, more just, more or less truthful” Of course the same is said of Christ. – Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Jesus Christ changes not in character purpose or aim.
A.W. Tozer on the Immutability of God “The immutability of God appears in its most perfect beauty when viewed against the mutability of men. In God no change is possible; in men change is possible, in men change is impossible to escape. Neither the man is fixed nor his world, and he and it or in constant flux.”
Tozer goes on to say – “If God is self-existent, He must be also self-sufficient and if he has power, He, being infinite must have all power. If he possesses all knowledge, His infinitude assures us that he possesses all knowledge. Similarly, his immutability presupposes his faithfulness; if he is unchanging it follows that he could not be unfaithful since that would require him to change.”
A W Pink writes –
Immutability is one of the Divine perfections which is not sufficiently pondered. It is one of the excellencies of the Creator which distinguishes Him from all His creatures. God is perpetually the same: subject to no change in His being, attributes, or determinations. Therefore God is compared to a Rock (Dt 32:4, etc.) which remains immovable when the entire ocean surrounding it is continually in a fluctuating state; even so, though all creatures are subject to change, God is immutable. Because God has no beginning and no ending, He can know no change. He is everlasting “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). (A. W. Pink in The Attributes of God.)
The Scriptural Support – If we are to be sound in doctrine then it is assumed we draw from scripture that which it teaches concerning God and his character and will.
1) Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? ”
2) Psalm 33:11 “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever…”
3) Malachi 3:6 – I am the Lord I change not
4) Isaiah 46:10 – Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
5) Psalm 102:25-27 “
6) Psalm 103:17 -But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,
7) Romans 4:20-21 Changes not in his power or his promises
8) 2 Corinthians 1:20 All the promises of God are yea
9) Hebrews 6:18 Covers a twofold aspect “He cannot lie and he cannot change his counsel
10) James 1:17 There is no variableness nor shadow of turning
The Good News For the Believer – What does all this mean to us? Why a study on the attributes of God. If God were a mere man and therefore had the qualities of a man we would be men most miserable. What does immutability mean to us and why should we find comfort in knowing this about the God we worship? Here are a number of reasons:
1) God’s people who find comfort in knowing he is always faithful to:
a. Keep His promises – Salvation, Work in you, Watch over you, Keep you, etc.
b. Keep/Preserve his word – There is no need for further revelation from God.
2) Forgive sin 1 John 1:19 – What of God’s creatures if still under the burden of sin
3) Provide assurance for Christians
a. Stability and Comfort 1 Peter 1:3-9
b. God’s never-ending love towards us Romans 8:35-39
c. Because he is faithful in comforting us during times of trial and tribulation. 1 Corinthians 10:13
d. Because in his faithfulness he answers prayers Psalm 143:1
4) Because of God’s immutability we have a solid view of the word of God 1 Peter 1:22-25; Matthew 24:35 and that gives us assurance concerning all things eternal, all things Christ related both in heaven and here on earth, also knowing that all things will work together for the good to them that love God.
The Bad News for the Unregenerate (unsaved) – What does the Immutability of God mean to the lost. Well for one contrary to the notion that God will somehow change his mind, in the end, he will judge righteous judgment, he will not contradict his law nor forget his Son’s sacrifice at Calvary.
1) Because of his immutability, God will always deal with men according to his holy character and plan. God makes no deals with men apart from his plan of salvation. There is no other way into heaven but through Christ
2) Because of God’s immutability, he will hold man accountable for sin. “He that believeth not shall be damned” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
3) Because of God’s immutability, there will be nothing of sin or wickedness allowed into his glorious heaven – Nothing of this sinful world will enter into God’s glorious heaven.
4) Because of God’s immutability, the wicked shall be cast into everlasting destruction