Theology: God (GOD IS UNCHANGEABLE)

It seems that all things are changing. The Eastern block crumbled. The mid- east became a hot spot. The price of gas bounces like a rubber ball. The television programming is changing. A recent survey showed that the once most popular Cosby show, was losing out by a majority to the Simpson’s. Almost everything there is in the world changes.

 

Can you think of anything that is not changing, with the exception of God and things relating to him? There doesn’t seem to be anything that is not changing. Thus in a world of drastic change, an unchangeable God should be very relevant to the people that we meet.

 

Immutability is another term that is often used for this doctrine. God is unchangeable, or immutable.

 

Immutable means according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, “…..not capable of or susceptible to change…..” (By permission. From Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary copyright 1991 by Merriam-Webster Inc., publisher of the Merriam-Webster (registered) Dictionaries.)

 

Thus, immutability may be a little better word for use with God. The idea of not capable of change would be a stronger idea than unchangeable. In reference to God there is no capability of change.

 

He is not capable of change thus cannot change. Exodus 3:14, “. . .I AM THAT I AM. . . .”; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 33:11-12; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17.

 

Bancroft mentions, “The self-existence and eternality of God may be considered arguments for His immutability. As an infinite being, absolutely independent and eternal, God is above the possibility of change.” (Taken from the book, Elemental Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permisssion of Zondervan Publishing House. p 75)

 

There is no change in God’s nature, mind, character, thought or will. He never changes in greatness, goodness, intelligence, size, or quality.

 

 

Bancroft continues, “Immutability does not imply inactivity or immobility, for God is infinite in power and energy. Nor does it imply lack of feeling, for God is capable of infinite sympathy and suffering and of great indignation against iniquity. It does not imply that God is incapable of making free choices, for to God belongs the inalienable right to choose ends, and the means of attaining them. Nor does it prohibit God from progressively unfolding and carrying out His plans and purposes.” (Taken from the book, Elemental Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 79)

 

Theissen mentions that all normal change must either be for the better or for the worse. God cannot change for the better because He is already perfect. God cannot change for the worse for two reasons. First, He is perfect, so He cannot change and become worse. Secondly, if He changed for the worse He would no longer be perfect which would be impossible for His character.

 

Some suggest that the Bible shows that God changes, in that we no longer have the Law and sacrifices. The same God is unchanged but he has changed how He deals with man. This is not changing Him, but how He relates to man. This is logically acceptable. Let me illustrate: The sun never changes, yet it melts snow in one spot of the earth and dries clay in another part of the earth. The sun doesn’t change.

 

An example of this is found in 1 Samuel 15:10, 29. This text mentions that God repents in the dealings with men but never does He repent in dealings with sin.

 

Another text that indicates that He does change in his dealings with man is Ezekiel 24:14, “I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord God.” The fact that He promises not to do things, indicates that He could if He so desired.

 

In the context of Ezekiel God gave His people every opportunity to turn to Him and they have not, so He pronounces this promise of judgment.

 

 

Jonah 1:1-3 and 3:10 also mention this idea of repent. The term repent actually means a change of mind, so really does not relate to the immutability question. (Bancroft Elemental Theology, p 77 discusses this further.)

 

APPLICATION

 

1. His promises never change, once given to a people.

 

2. His moral character can never change thus His quest for our holiness will never change. That is in our walk and our ultimate holiness in eternity.

 

What is right is right no matter the time with God. With man, right and wrong shifts with the whims of the ungodly. What do you think about that last comment? Is it really accurate to relate the comment only to the ungodly? I’m not sure that it is. Christians tend to vary right and wrong quite nicely as well.

 

3. What He has promised in the way of salvation will never change. 1 Peter 1:3,4.

 

4. It is a stern warning to the lost. His judgment has been set and it will come to pass no matter how many cry peace as they did in Jerusalem. John 3:18

 

The lost are surely lost for God will not change in His attitude toward sin, nor His set judgment.[1]

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

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