Worshipping the God Who is Eternally Unchangeable- Part 2
"One can almost imagine a smile on people’s faces and perhaps long and loud laughter as well if one began to speak on the necessity of immutability for worship and how the immutability of God should move people to worship. We live in a day where things that are new and exciting are thought to be necessary for worship. We want things that move us and things that are old and have been done a long time cannot (we say) do that. We can’t imagine doing the same old things over and over again. Before long they don’t move us to worship. We want fog machines and strobe lights with action films in order to say we have worshipped today.
"The fact of God’s immutability and the fact that we must worship Him in spirit and truth and with reverence and awe demonstrate that there is no true worship of a God that can change. A Redeemer that can change may be a Redeemer now, but he might not be a redeemer later on when he changed. God and God alone is to be worshipped as Redeemer because He saves forever, that is, immutably. Anything less is not worship" (Richard Smith).
In part one of this article we considered God's eternal unchangeableness in these three ways:
1. Since God is Unchanging — Nothing that Matters has Changed!
2. Since God is Unchanging — Never Will He Need Improvement, Information, or be Inconsistent!
3. Since God is Unchanging — None of His Promises Will Fail!
In conclusion we will consider three more great truths emanating from God's immutability:
4. Since God is Unchanging -- Nothing will Ever Cause His Love for You to Diminish!
God feels about us the same way He did when He sent Christ to the earth. The same love that motivated him then motivates him now. Jeremiah 31:3, "The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you."
John 17:23, "that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me."
The Bible is the love story of God with His people. It isn't the revelation of an outraged Judge who reluctantly shows kindness to criminals he finds despicable. It reveals the Relentless Pursuit of the Passionate Lover who pursues His people and treats them as a Bridegroom who promises to maintain honeymoon intensity, pleasures, energy, excitement, enthusiasm, and honeymoon enjoyment. He rejoices in them and sings over them.
When scripture declares that God is immutable, it doesn't mean that He is immobile. He is stable but not static. He isn't frozen in some sort of eternal pose. He isn't a cosmic iceberg. While He is never at the mercy of His creatures, neither is He detached from them. His wrath against sin is real and powerful. His compassion for sinners is also sincere and unending. His mercies are truly over all His works. And above all, His eternal love for His people is more real, more powerful, and more enduring than any earthly emotion that ever bore the label “love.” Unlike human love, God’s love is unfailing, unwavering, and eternally constant. This truth alone ought to convince us that God’s affections are not like human passions.
A middle aged farmer and his wife were driving down the road in the old truck when the wife said to the husband, "Jeb, remember when we used to sit snuggled so close to each other when you were driving that we looked like one person with two heads? Remember when you used to put your arm around me and whisper in my ear sweet things while you were driving?"
He looked at his wife sitting next to the door on her side and said, "Sadie, it ain't me that's moved!"
If you've lost the former closeness and intimacy that you once had with God -- You're the one that's moved!
God's dealing with His spiritual children are in some respects like those of a "good" earthly father with his biological children. When they obey, they experience his pleasure. When they disobey, they face his fatherly loving displeasure and discipline. When they are hurt, they feel his compassion. He is always the same Father, yet with many sides to his character, but all of those sides are shown from a heart of love for his children. The same is true with God. What may seem to be an inconsistency with God is often simply God displaying another aspect of his character to us. Since we are so changeable, it shouldn’t surprise us that God seems to change in the display of who he is.
5. Since God is Unchanging -- Never does the Future Hang in the Balance!
Psalm 115:3 But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.
Psalm 135:6 Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.
Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,'
Isaiah 46:11 Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.
But I hear someone object, "What about those passages where God repents, or says something never entered His mind, or comes down from Heaven to find out something? Does this not seem to say that God changes?
There are some today who have revived an ancient heresy under a new name called open theism or free-will theism. According to them God must be changeable because He doesn't know anymore about the future than we do, because the future isn't knowable until it becomes the present! To them God is always becoming something, always learning and getting new info. According to them, God must be very fast on His feet in order to stay one step ahead of us, and that without knowing what our next step will be. Their kinder, gentler God is the Great Cosmic Trouble-Shooter, always on maintenance calls trying to fix this, stop that, start them, etc..
He is the God of mood swings, of regrets, of surprises, of the "opps", who says, "Well, would you look at that! I never dreamed this is the way this would turn out!" Their God is the Big Worrier in the sky who invites us to join him in worrying about how things will turn out. It changes the verse in the hymn that sings "I don't know about tomorrow, but I know who holds tomorrow in His hands," to "I don't know what tomorrow holds but I know the One who doesn't know much about it either."
When human tragedy, injustice, suffering, or pain occurs, open theists stand ready with their words of comfort and pastoral counsel: "God is as grieved as you are about the difficulties and heartache you are experiencing, and he, too, wishes that things had worked out differently.
"Because God does not (and cannot) know, much less control, much of what the future holds, and because many things occur that are contrary to his good and loving desires, we must not blame God for the evil things that happen in our lives. Instead, we can be assured of his love for us and know that he feels the pain we feel. Also, he stands with us to provide strength to rebuild our lives out of whatever unpredictable and unforeseen tragic events that may have occurred. God is love; never doubt this. Suffering often is pointless; learn to accept this. And be consoled with the realization that God cares deeply about our pain even as he watches tragic actions and events unfold, helpless and unable to prevent the suffering he so deeply bemoans and regrets."
Commenting on the above statement, atheist Eli Wiesel, the Romanian-born American Jewish Holocaust survivor said: "I say if that's God, He should resign and let someone more competent take charge!"
God is too wise to be mistaken; God is too good to be unkind. So when you don’t understand; when you can’t see his plan; when you can’t trace his hand, trust his heart.
What about those passages in which God “finds out” something? They occur in judicial contexts. In Genesis 3:9, God asks Adam, “where are you?” This is not a request for information. (By the way, this would have been ignorance of the present and not the future!) In this verse, God begins His judicial cross-examination. Adam’s responses will confirm God's indictment, and God will respond in judgment and grace. But the same judicial context exists in other texts where God “comes down” to “find out” something.
God’s “remembering” and “forgetting” are also judicial categories in Scripture, because they are covenant categories. For God to “remember” His covenant simply means for Him to carry out its terms. When God says that something “never entered my mind” (Jer.7:31, 19:5, 32:35) He is not confessing ignorance, but describing His standards for human behavior (still another judicial point). God is saying here that the horrible human sacrifice was utterly contrary to His holy standards.
What about those verses that say God changed his mind or that God "repented?" There are several such verses in the Old Testament, such as Genesis 6:6, which says that God was "sorry" he had created the pre-flood world. The word in question speaks of God’s grief over man’s sin. It doesn’t mean that God changed his mind or that God thought he had somehow made a mistake.
Jonah 3:10 is often cited as another example of God changing his mind. In fact, some translations use the word "repented" to describe God’s reaction to the repentance of Nineveh. The NIV translates it more accurately as saying that God "relented of punishment he had threatened." God didn’t "change" his mind. He threatened Nineveh with punishment unless they repented. When the people repented, God withheld his threatened judgment.
God's purpose doesn't change . . . the people do. Since the people have changed, God relates to them differently as He pursues His purpose in their lives. The Biblical testimony is clear . . .The Lord does not change like men do. Our relationship with Him changes but it is due to a change in us . . . not in Him. 1 Samuel 15:29 - "He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind."
6. Since God is Unchanging -- Nobody Should be Waiting for A Better Deal!
Because many people believe everything changes they feel that when all is said and done ... God will grade on a curve and if one is above average, all will be well when they meet Him in eternity. Others think that God will give us another chance after death. Still others will believe that God will grant eternal life to everyone ... regardless of what they believe.
The truth of God's unchangeableness is very bad news for rebellious sinners. God will not "change his mind" and let them slip into heaven. That means there is no escape from the hands of an all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful God!
“Here is terror for the wicked. Those who defy Him, break His laws, have no concern for His glory, but live their lives as though He did not exist, must not suppose that, when at the last they shall cry to Him for mercy, He will alter His will, revoke His word, and rescind His awful threatenings."
On the other hand, this is very good news to those who want to be saved! God’s nature does not change! God’s attitude toward seekers does not change. That’s why John 6:37 is such a comfort. Jesus said, in John 6:37, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out."
The clouds may go and come,
And storms may sweep my sky;
This blood-sealed friendship changes not,
The cross is ever nigh.
I change - He changes not;
The Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting-place;
His truth, not mine, the tie.
My love is oftimes low,
My joy still ebbs and flows;
But peace with Him remains the same,
No change Jehovah knows. (Horatius Bonar)