The Unchangeableness of God
Text: Malachi 3:6
The amount of change that takes place in our world is unquantifiable. Everything from advances in technology to the demise of morality. Nothing is fixed. Even the church of Jesus Christ which has been through revisions for good and bad through the centuries, has changed to the point that most places of worship are unrecognizable as such.
Hardly a year goes by without another denomination or church falling prey to societal pressures. Same-sex marriage, female pastors, abortion, the exclusivity of salvation through Christ and many other things are separating the wheat from the chaff as we press further into the 21st century. And that’s saying nothing of the non-confessional churches that pop up all the time that are weak from the get-go.
Nevertheless, our text today reminds us of something that ought to thrill our hearts and praise our God; and that is the truth that God does not change. There is no decline or increase with God. There is no improvement or deterioration. There is no inconsistency, failure, or deviation.
What He knows He eternally knows. What He is He eternally is. He is surprised, amazed, or confused. He acts, but never reacts. He thinks, but never rethinks. He lives without regret. “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” Ps 102:25-27
This is what we know as the immutability of God. You know the word mutate which means change, or mutant which refers to an organism that changes through mutation. Well God is immutable, i.e. he does not change. This truth is not affected by the incarnation. When the Son of God became man, there was no change in the divine essence or in His divine being. All that He ever was He remained when He took our human nature, and any changes that occurred during His time on earth were changes in His human nature, such as increasing in wisdom and stature (Lk 2:52), or His changes of becoming tired or hungry. Thus, Jesus Christ is immutable in His divine essence, which is expressed beautifully in Heb 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”
This text is the Lord telling us something about Himself. It is a personal testimony. He is reminding His people of things, things that we would do well to remember as we come to the end of 2015.
I. HE IS CHANGELESS IN HIS PERSON – “I am the LORD”
i.e. I am STILL the Lord. Nothing has changed in regard to my person.
Now when we think of His person, we are reminded of His essential characteristics of wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. Since we are made in the image of God, we understand these things, but we do not possess them in an unchanging way. But the Lord does, since any change would imply improvement or deterioration.
What does that mean to you today? Well that depends if you’re a Christian or not. If you’re not a Christian it assures you that since you are presently under the wrath of God (Jn 3:36), the change for that must be in you. God isn’t going to change, so His wrath abides upon you until you change; until your unbelief and unrepentant heart gives way to faith and repentance of your sin.
If you die without having received Christ as your Saviour, nothing will change in the eternity to come and the judgement. What God has said about the unbelieving will remain true in the judgment (Rev 21:8).
So what about the Christian? Look to whom the text is addressed, “the sons of Jacob” i.e. the people of God. The truth that God does not change is a word of encouragement for us. While we are changing all the time, God doesn’t change, and that is meant to encourage the sons of Jacob.
What a text this is to destroy the Arminian lie that you can lose your salvation. If salvation depends on my ability to keep it, then the immutability of Christ offers no comfort whatsoever, because my salvation would hinge on my ability to not deviate in faith or obedience. But the text says the result of the immutability of the Lord is that we are not consumed!
II. HE IS CHANGELESS IN HIS PLANS – “the LORD”
i.e. I am Jehovah, the covenant keeping God. This is the name that reminds the people of God that His plans do not change towards His people. He is in a covenant with them, and nothing will change that. Thus, His plans do not change.
Now every day we make plans. Some of them come to pass, and others do not. But this is not so with God.
God’s plan of redemption is immutable. Nothing changes it.
Some might charge God with a change in His plans when they see what they perceive to be God’s reaction to the Fall. Adam and Eve were made perfect, but disobeyed and fell, and God instead of demanding obedience now demands faith. But the change was not in God. God still required obedience to live, but because He knew man could provide perfect obedience He provided a substitute who would provide obedience for His people who appropriate or gain His obedience by faith in Him.
Furthermore, the plan of redemption was not reactionary. His plan of redemption is eternal, made before the Fall (Eph 1:3-6,11).
What about the passages that speak of God repenting? Ex 32, 1 Sam 15, Jonah 3, etc. Are we to understand that these teach God changes His plans?
Not at all “that which is to be hath already been” (Eccl 3:15). Everything occurs according to His will. In the case of such passages His message is designed to get a response in changeable creatures, thus His unchangeable plan accommodates the limitations of man.
In the case of the Ninevites, God willed their salvation and told them of a judgement that would come on them should they not repent in order to get them to repent. Hypothetically, should they have no repented, God would have overthrown the city, but the message was intended to get them to repent, and He took back the judgement because they repented. The only thing that would prove the changeableness of God is if after having called them to repentance and they repent, if He had carried on with the judgement. That would have reflected mutability in God.
God uses language that humans relate to in order to covey His message. This is even seen with regard to perceived emotions in God, such as grief or jealousy, but God does not experience such agitation or change of emotion that we are subject to.
Thus, we can be encouraged. Every truth that has blessed your heart in the past, is as equally true when you don’t feel it to be true or you forget that it is true. Some days your faith rises to a height where your sense of forgiveness or acceptance before God is intense and you rejoice in it. But at other times your faith is weak, and you don’t feel forgiven or accepted. But nothing has changed in the reality.
III. HE IS CHANGELESS IN HIS PROMISES – “therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
Here God promises that because He doesn’t change, His promise of mercy to His people does not change.
In the NT we are told, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen” (2 Cor 1:20).
All promises are sure in Christ, because they are given based upon His unchanging merit. The worth of His person doesn’t change. The Father’s satisfaction in His work doesn’t change. The power of His blood doesn’t change. All the promises of God are sealed in Christ, and those who stand upon Him are sure of their fulfillment.
I am as forgiven today as I ever shall be. I am as much a child of God today as I ever shall be. I am as sure of Heaven today as I ever shall be, because the promises of God are sealed in Christ.