Archive for the ‘Attributes of God’ Category

Immutability: Meaning for Life

April 24, 2007

How in the world (or out of) can the meaning of life be thought of in terms of immutability? I will argue that there is no ultimate meaning in life apart from the immutability of God. In fact, life is full of meaning in many different aspects precisely because God is immutable.

We can start with man’s created purpose. If God changes, then God’s original purpose might have changed. But even more, if God does change then He might have changed enough to where there is no longer any purpose for man. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks the question: “What is man’s chief end?” We could get at the meaning of this by changing the word “end,” which means “goal,” to purpose. A modern version does ask this question in that way: “What is man’s primary purpose?” Both versions, however, are built on the assumption that the original purpose that God created man for is still intact and will always be the same. That requires God to be immutable for those things to be true.

But we must tie man’s assigned purpose in life with that of God. God’s chief goal or purpose is to display His own glory. He will do nothing and intend nothing without the primary intent of displaying His glory. As we saw in a previous BLOG, God is immutable because He always lives for and loves His own glory. He is immutable in His nature and in His character which means that He will always desire His own glory because that will always be best. Without any problem, then, we can see that if God created man with a purpose that purpose would never be at odds with His own purpose. Man was created to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. However, if God’s purpose ever changed we can see that man’s purpose would change as well. Immutability is necessary if man is to have the same purpose of glorifying God each day and even each moment of his life.

We have purpose because we were created according to the immutable purpose of God who does all for His own glory. Within that statement each person would be able to find purpose in life. However, not all believe that and not all have even heard of it. But that does not change the reality of the truth of the statement at all. That is the only real meaning a person will ever find in life. People do not find meaning in life in our day because they are cut off from the truth of who God is by the teachings of evolution, liberal theology, and even legalistic practices. We are not here because we are an accident in the cosmos and we are not here in order to live good lives or even legalistic ones. We are here to live to the glory of God and in that alone can we find true meaning. But this is only true if God is immutable and that we can know God. We may grow in knowing Him, but He is never different from Himself and so we can know Him truly as we grow in our knowledge of Him.

Believers may have comfort in the fact that God created for His own glory and all that happens to the believer is for his good which is to display the glory of God. The believer can go to the throne of grace in prayer because God and the Mediator are always the same. Grace is always grace because Christ who is grace does not change. The believer lives in communion with God because God does not change and communes with the believer through Christ who does not change. In fact, eternal life is to know God (John 17:3). Eternal life, then, requires both a quality and a quantity. Eternal life starts in this life as a way of life and it goes on through eternity in terms of length and quality. But if God is not immutable, then both the quality and quantity would change. With what joy the believer can look upon this shining of the glory of God. It means that the believer can know God in the certainty of His being and can know God in intimacy because God does not change. This will be true for eternity.

There is also much meaning for this life for human beings that do not have Christ because God is immutable in His purpose to shine forth the glory of His wrath and justice on all who do not repent. In other words, because God is immutable in His holiness, wrath, and justice all the actions, thoughts, and motives of human beings have far more meaning than they realize. Each sin will be remembered for eternity and punished for eternity for each person that does not have Christ. Since the promises of God are certain because He is immutable and cannot fail in performing them, each person will stand before God to answer for all the things done in the body and soul. Since the knowledge of God is also immutable, God will never forget even the smallest of sins that are against His name. This shows that the immutability of God lands with great weight on each person that has ever lived since it will be the same way for all eternity. There is an enormous meaning in the life of each person because the God of glory does all for His own glory and does that with an immutable purpose.

Immutability: Christ

April 22, 2007

Immutability shines forth in the Person and works of Christ. This may not sound like something that can be true, but if we use the minds that God gave us to love Him with and pray for insight, it fits with His character and Scripture. We know that Scripture tells us that Christ is the radiance or outshining of the glory of God. If God’s immutability is part of His glory, then it will be seen and pointed to in some way by Christ. Sometimes we have to look at things in a different way, but then again the divine glory is different than what human wisdom is used to looking at. I will make the statement again: the glory of God shone forth in Christ and that means that the immutability of God did too. If God is immutable, then that glory still shines forth in Christ.

The first thing we can look at is the God-centeredness of God. God does all for His own glory and surely we can see that displayed in Christ. God is immutable in His holiness in that He loves His own glory and will not do anything that does not manifest His glory. He demonstrates that in Christ. He does not save sinners apart from the glory of His own name. He does not save sinners apart from Jesus Christ who was and is the very outshining of the glory of His name. The Gospel itself is seen in this light: “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (II Cor 4:6). The Gospel is also called this: “according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted” (I Tim 1:11) which is actually better translated as “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.”

We can also see the glory of God and His God-centeredness by looking at John 1:14. Jesus Christ was the tabernacle of the glory of God and that glory was seen and it was full of grace and truth. All that Christ did was to shine forth the glory of God, and all that God did was to shine forth His glory in and through Christ. What this shows is the immutability of God in reference to Himself and His own glory. He does not change in His love for His Son and His Son does not change in reference to the Father. The Godhead is immutable because each Person in the Trinity is immutable in desire and action in doing all to display and manifest the glory of God. This is seen without apology or qualification in Jesus Christ.

It is also true that Christ could not be the glory of truth if truth is something that changed. But since God does not change the glory that shone through the Person and works of Christ that same glory will always shine there. We see this in all that Christ did which was to please the Father and the Father is pleased with His own glory. There we see the immutability of God shining as He does all for His own glory. There we see the shining forth of the glory of God and we can know that even in a sinful world God will always use things as a way to manifest His glory. Christ shows that God always acts like God. He is the shining forth of the glory of God that never changes and shows that God never changes from being Himself, loving Himself, or from doing all for His own glory.

Christ prayed for the glory of God in John 17 and even the glory that was His before the world was. He raised Lazarus from the dead in order to manifest the glory of God. The Mount of Transfiguration was for the glory of God. The miracles were so that the glory of God would shine forth through Christ. In all of this we see the immutability of God in reference to His doing all that He does out of a love for His own glory. In the healings what we see is the glory of God shining through Christ in His sovereignty over all things including health and death. That shows again the immutable nature of God and that He will always manifest and display His glory.

The truthfulness of God in keeping His Word shows that He is immutable. When God keeps His promises He shows that He is immutable in His purpose and will not change regarding His plans. This is seen especially in the Person of Christ as this shows that He kept His Word to Eve in the promise to her of her seed. The promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Christ. All the Old Testament promises were fulfilled in Christ. “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (II Cor 1:20). God shows that He always acts like Himself in Christ. He is the shining forth of the glory of God that never changes and shows that God never changes from being Himself, loving Himself, or from doing all for His own glory. In other words, God is immutable in all that He is and all that He does. He cannot do anything contrary to His nature and His character. He always shines forth His glory and that through Christ. It is through Christ that all things came into being and it is in all believers that Christ lives. He does so to shine forth the immutable glory.

Immutability: Sin

April 19, 2007

The thoughts of God’s immutability and a particular doctrine are not put together very often. We can think of the reason of this as being because it is not that important or perhaps we should think of it in terms of the modern man as not being quick to think of things in relation to God. In a nation and world where man is thought to be the measure of all things, the nature of God is relegated to inferior status and perhaps even thought to be non-existent. However, for whatever reason that man ignores the connection of the character of God with the nature of sin, it is to the ignorance of man regarding sin and to the poverty of the nation and the Church. The immutability is a foundation for the thinking of humanity regarding sin whether it is recognized or not. To the degree that man ignores the doctrine of God as related to sin is to that same degree for darkness to dwell in man. To the degree that man ignores the immutability of God in relation to sin is the degree that man will look to the changes of time and man as the standard for sin which is no real standard at all.

While this subject was covered to some degree in the doctrine part and the evangelism part, we will look at it in more detail here. The very definition of sin is that it is against God (Psalm 51:4) and that sin is falling short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). These are the two main verses that make up the main point of what we will explore. First, sin is against God. That statement makes some people laugh and others scratch their heads. But for some it is like a blow to the stomach as it shows the true nature of sin. To say that sin is against God is to make an enormous statement with virtually an infinite amount of ramifications. While we have but a short space, let us dig in.

God made man in His own image and likeness. Many wrestle with what that means, but at least part of what it means is evident and clear. Jesus Christ came and was the very outshining of the glory of God (Heb 1:3). He was the tabernacle of the glory of God (John 1:14). He is also called “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). In some way, then, to see Christ was to see the Father (John 14:7-14). We can wrestle through many of these issues, but it is plain that to see Christ and His glory was to see the Father. That is why the Gospel is the Gospel of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (II Cor 4:4, 6). As the image of God Christ came to be the shining forth of the glory of God and in that people could see the character of God.

Man is to be like Christ. That does not sound like much unless you read and meditate on the paragraph immediately preceding this one. But to be like Christ is to be an instrument by which the glory of God shines through you and in that people will see the character and glory of God. In that way man is the image of God in that God dwells in that person and reflects His glory through that person. God created man to be the instrument by which He would shine forth His glory in the world, or to say it another way is to say that man would be the instrument of God’s expression of His glory in the world. Now we can see what it means to fall short of the glory of God. It is not that man has failed to be good enough or to do enough good works, but that man has failed to be the instrument of the glory of God in the world. Man has failed to be what he was created to be. In doing this man has sinned against God and has violated his Creator. That is one aspect of the hideous nature of sin.

Another aspect of the hideous nature of sin is that man has traded the image of God to be like the devil. It was the devil that deceived Eve and she bit on the promise of being like God (Genesis 3:1-5). What happened at that point? Man became the child of the devil. In John 8:44 Jesus told the Jews that they were like their father the devil and they wanted to do the desires of their father. In other words, they were children of the devil and were made in his likeness and followed after his desires. Man is born with a sin nature which reflects the proud and selfish nature of the devil in us and outward sin is to carry out those desires. With every sin that a person commits s/he is using self to display the character of the devil rather than the love of God. Every sin is against God in that every sin is carrying out the action and desires of the devil. In sin man is like the devil who hates the glory and likeness of God and so does things for himself and his own glory. In man’s pride and selfish nature man is being a child of the devil and so all that he does is against God.

But we must return in a more explicit way to immutability. God’s holiness is seen is His love for Himself and His love for His own character and attributes. God’s holiness is to be like Himself and for Him to be unholy would be for Him to be unlike Himself. Immutability, then, is necessary for God to be holy and for God to be God. If God changed, He would then be unlike Himself and so not holy. If God changed, the whole nature of holiness and of righteousness would be something unlike what we know of today. But since God is immutable, He is always holy, that is, He is always like Himself and always exists in love within the Trinity. If God ever changed, He would be more like the devil than like God. Sin would no longer be sin and holiness would no longer be holiness. If God changed we might not fall short of His glory any longer, but instead be more and more like the devil which is an aspect of hell itself.

If God changed from being perfectly holy and loving within the Trinity, nothing would be safe. If His love became other than for Himself, sin would be a matter of what He set out for the moment. But instead, because of the immutability of God, the nature of sin will always be that it is against God and He is always the same. Until people understand that sin is against God, they will not understand the nature of sin at all. Sin is not just doing something bad or going against some arbitrary command of God, it is against God and will always be against the character of God because He is immutable and will never change. Sin is so hideous that it is to be like the devil and will end in hell which was created for the devil and all those like him. The punishment for sin is eternal because it is against an eternal God who is immutable in His hatred of sin. The nature of sin is seen in that it is against God and will be against God for eternity. Why is that? Because God is immutable. When man changed from being the image of God to being the child of the devil, God stayed the same and will forever be the same. That is why man must be born from above in order to be renewed into the image of God. “And that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph 4:23-24). That God is immutable so the new birth will always be according to Him as He is now.

Immutability: Evangelism

April 17, 2007

Without the immutability of God there would be no sense in any true evangelism. If God changed, then the basis for all of “nature,” theology, and life would change. In the most basic of senses unless God is immutable there is no basis for evangelism to have a basis in truth.

If God changed, then the doctrines of sin would no longer be true in the same way. All sin is against God. David taught us this in Psalm 51 when he said this: “against You, You only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (v. 4). All sin is against the character and being of God. If God changes, then the nature of sin in some way will change and evangelism would then be worthless or we would be in need of a revision of Scripture.

The Ten Commandments are really a reflection of the character of God as they are an outworking of the Great Commandments. The Ten Commandments and the Great Commandments as they reflect the character of God are how we are to approach others and are to be used to bring light to others to show them their sin. If God is mutable and so changes, these commandments would change as well since they are reflections of the character of God. If God changes, then the standard of sin has changed and this would change the need for men’s salvation and it would also change the character of the cross.

The Gospel comes to man as a message of good news to sinners. In the Gospel there is the message of the cross of Christ dying for the sins of sinners. However, if God has changed and therefore the standard for sin has changed, then the cross would not be effective for sinners any longer. Sin is defined as lawlessness (I John 3:4) and as falling short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). If God changes and therefore the standard of sin would, then the punishment suffered by Christ for sins under that Law would no longer be valid. One might argue that God might change so that the cross would not be necessary. Either way, the message of the Gospel would be different because of necessity the cross would not be the means of salvation. Christ’s suffering and death would no longer be able fulfill the curse of the law. The sinner would be left on his or her own.

If God changed which necessitates the Law being changed, then what Christ did as a fulfillment of the Law and earning a perfect righteousness would also be nullified. Christ lived a life under the Law and kept it perfectly as the standard of God. However, if the Law changed then the perfect righteousness earned by Christ would no longer be valid because there would be a different Law and a different standard. Man would be left on his own to try to figure out what that standard was and then to keep it.

The Gospel is based on promise. In it man believes that God will do what He says that He has done and that He will do what He says He will do. But if God changes, there would be no promise of eternal life as man would think of it. If God changed, then eternal life would not be the same and perhaps no eternal life at all. So in evangelism man would have no promises of God to present and no expectation that those promises would be fulfilled.

Evangelism is based, though indeed not expressed that way, on the immutability of God. Believers can talk to unbelievers knowing that God has not changed and will not change. That means that the standard if sin will always be the same and that the cross of Christ is the only satisfaction for sin to keep anyone out of hell. That means that the standard of righteousness is the same and so the imputed righteousness of Christ is the only way for a person to enter heaven. Believers can talk to people about sin, judgment, and righteousness only because God does not change. They can tell people that the standard of God does not change and the command to teach people all that Christ commanded them is true. They can tell people with confidence that all will stand before God on judgment day and all will bow and confess Christ as Lord. They can proclaim the message of Christ that all must be born again. They can tell people that the promises of God are certain because God who cannot change cannot lie. The believer is able to evangelize with certainty because God cannot change. After all, we love Him as He is and our message of our love for God should not change either. If God changed, we would not love Him in the same way and perhaps not at all.

Immutability: Worship

April 14, 2007

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. However, Scripture tells us that the only worship is done in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). Scripture also tells us that true worship is done with reverence and awe (Heb 12:28). For anyone to come near to God one must treat Him as holy (Lev 10:3).

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). As we look at this verse, there are many things that set out the nature of true worship. One, we can see that there is an outward aspect to worship (words of my mouth). Two, we can see that there is an inward aspect to worship (meditation of my heart). Three, this is done to please God and not ourselves (be acceptable in Your sight). Four, it was to the self-existent God (LORD = YAHWEH = self-existent one). Five, it was to the immutable God (my rock). Six, it was done to “my Redeemer.” Within this one text, and how it is related to the three texts in the previous paragraph, there is enough to teach us about worship.

Worship is not just an outward action. This is not to deny that there are outward manifestations and practices, but simply that it is not just that. The heart is what determines the object of worship. It is easy to see that a person can have a lot of hyped music in terms of sound and beat and people will be fired up. But what are they fired up about? Are their affections flowing to the truth about God or about feeling good because of the music? They can, at least to some degree, have high thoughts of God while they are feeling good and still think highly of God because of what He is doing for them. That is not true worship. The heart must be taken with God as He is.

As we can see in Psalm 19:14 the soul wants the meditation of its heart to be acceptable in the sight of God. This is not just a bunch of ditties or of high feelings to the sound of loud music, it is living in the sight of God and wanting its inner person with its thoughts and feelings to be pleasing to God. This is a heart that desires its adoration of and delight in God to be pleasing to God. This is a heart that wants to exalt, magnify, and glorify God above all things and that for the pleasure of God. This is not a heart that is taken with its own high thoughts of God and of its own pleasurable feelings and praises God for the ability to have those. It is for the pleasure of God as its primary goal or it is not the worship and exaltation of God. God and His pleasure are always the only proper goals in worship.

Points 4-6 show the object of worship. All of what I have been saying above is in some ways a prelude to the immutability of God as the basis for worship displayed in this text. Worship is aimed at YAHWEH, that is, the self-existent one. It is this God that upholds the universe and each thing and person in it. It is this God that upholds my every breath and it is in Him that I live, move, and exist. There is no true worship of God apart from the self-existent I AM. He is the only God. In a previous entry I set out that there would be no self-existent God who is capable of change. If there is no worship apart from the self-existent God and immutability is a necessary component of self-existence, there is no worship apart from the God who is immutable. The very next phrase of Psalm 19:14 refers to God as “rock.” That is simply another way of saying that God is immutable. A large rock is a symbol of things that are not moved and are not changed. It is only the self-existent God who does not change that can truly save from things now and for eternity. He is a God who can be worshipped.

As we dwell upon this for a moment, surely it is obvious that the worship spoken of in Psalm 14 is worship that is in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24) and done with reverence and awe (Heb 12:28). We are able to selfishly worship a Redeemer who saves us, though with nothing but a narrow and selfish self-love. But if we do not worship the Redeemer who is also self-existent and immutable, we don’t worship the true God from the heart and with reverence. 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.

Immutability: Relation to Other Attributes

April 11, 2007

The connection of immutability with the other attributes is vital in terms of importance and understanding. We have looked at the self-existence of God and how God exists in and of Himself. God is life itself and has the power of life in His being. But if God does not have the power of life immutably, then of course He would not have life without change. That would mean that it would be possible for God to go out of existence. So the teaching of God’s immutability is utterly necessary for God to be self-existent and that for eternity. We can also think of immutability in terms of eternity and know that this connection is vital and clear as well. If God could change, then He might or even would change from being eternal. We can see how this is also linked with His self-existence. A being that can change is not safe for eternity nor is anyone that depends on that being.

What would happen to God’s omnipresence if He could change? Clearly that would mean that He would not be present in all places and so He would not be in sovereign control of those places. If God is not in all places and not in control of all places, then He is not God. Another problem that would immediately come up is that if He is not in all places how could those places be kept into existence? If God changed, parts of the universe would go out of existence since God would not be there to uphold them.

God’s power would also be completely different if He changed. His omnipotence would be simply power. No longer would God be able to do any and all things that please Him. No longer could it be said that no one can thwart God and no one can ward off His hand. No longer could God say that He brings down the proud. We would also have to ask ourselves about the efficacious power of God in calling sinners to Himself through Christ.

What would happen to the holiness of God if He could change? Would God still be perfectly holy if He could change? He couldn’t be perfectly holy since perfect beings cannot change for the better or for the worse. Perfection does not and cannot change. This would mean that God is not perfect. But if God is not perfectly holy, then what standard do we really have for holiness? What would happen to the Scriptures that command us to be holy as He is holy? We would then have a God that is very powerful, but is now unholy. That means God might not keep His word and we would never know how to be like God on a daily basis. But then again, if God is not immutably holy, we might not want to be like Him. Most likely it would not matter anyway. Why would He put up with us?

Can we imagine a world where there is no love at all? That would be nothing short of hell. No one has love in them and that means that they are unable to love unless they are born of God and know Him (I John 4:7-8). But if God could change, what would happen to His perfect love? On the one hand, since God is love within the Trinity a movement away from love would destroy the Trinity which exists in perfect love. Since God’s holiness consists in perfect love for Himself, this would mean that there would be no standard for love either. This would mean that God’s love for Christ would change and since all His saving love for humanity is focused in Christ, there would be no salvation possible. Humanity would be nothing but a cesspool of hate on earth. They would then die and go to the place of eternal hate. Immutability is necessary for love to continue.

If God could change, then His truth would change as well. Scripture tells us that it is impossible for God to lie. But if He could change, then it would be possible for Him to lie. Not only would God be able to tell things that were not true, but He would not watch over His Word to see that it stood true. The Scriptures would be nothing more than statements about what used to be true about God and man. This would also reflect heavily on His faithfulness. In one sense God’s faithfulness is really just His ability to say what is true and then do what He says He will do. Immutability is necessary for the truth of God, the Scriptures, and the faithfulness of God.

As we have seen, the immutability of God is utterly vital to the Christian faith, though no more important than our very concept of God is. Without the immutability of God there would be no God and no Christianity. Without this there would be no hope for any good or love at all. When people posit a doctrine that requires God to be mutable or to change, they are teaching a different god than the God of Holy Scripture. Whether one judges that to be an unkind statement or not, it is still true. If it is true, then it is not unkind since it is always kindness to teach people the truth about God. The Church must repent and teach the glory of the immutability of God.

Immutability: Doctrine

April 9, 2007

The immutability of God and its meaning for doctrine gives us another way to judge doctrine and discern the truth. If a doctrine requires God or His will to change, then we can know that the doctrine is not true. This attribute also gives us great comfort as we look at doctrines because we can know that the vital teachings of Scripture are always true and do not change with the changing tides of public opinion.

The majestic and glorious doctrine of the Trinity has an extra luster when seen in light of the attribute of immutability. If we think of the Trinity in terms of the inner workings of the triune Persons of the one God, it teaches us a lot about God. Scripture tells us that God is live. When we see this in terms of the inner Persons of God, we are treated to a delectable feast for the soul. We can now understand it in terms of the Father loving the Son and the Son loving the Father. When we see that love is the fruit of the Spirit, we know that all love in the human realm is at least through the Spirit. But immutability steps in and informs us about this love. It tells us that the love that flows within the Trinity is a love that does not diminish and does not stop. It is a perfect love that will never change and will never cease. Since God will never change, He will always be love within the Trinity. Surely this is a picture of what heaven will be like.

Hebrews 13:8 sets out for us another aspect of the Trinity and how it relates to us: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” All of our doctrines of Christ are linked to this. If Jesus Christ changed at any point, then our Savior would be different than He is. Our Savior would also be different at some point in the future. This shows with clarity how necessary it is that we think of the Trinity and of Christ in terms of immutability. It is only if God does not change and if Christ does not change do we have any ground for real hope.

If God could change, or perhaps did change, then what would that do for the teaching of Scripture about the covenants? What if God changed and no longer held to His promise with Noah? Then maybe the world would perish again with huge flooding. What would happen if God changed His mind or purpose with Abraham? If we look at the covenant with Abraham as we should in the light of the teachings of Galatians, then the whole fabric of the Gospel would be changed. Perhaps it would now be a Gospel of works. If God changed regarding His covenant with David, then would Christ be on the throne now? Then again, if God changed in some way, what would become of the covenant that the Father made with the Son to redeem His people? We are not sure, but it would certainly appear that the Gospel itself would be changed.

Let us think of the doctrine of creation in light of immutability. In one sense God has already created and so that could never change in terms of fact. But if God changed, would the laws of “nature” be changed as well? Would God change His mind about gravity? What if He decided to move the sun closer or farther away from the earth? What if He decided that He liked a faster rotation of the earth? We also know that God upholds the world by the word of His power. What would happen if He decided not to do that? When we look at the teachings of Scripture regarding the Trinity and of creation, both depend on the attribute of immutability. Every day when we get up, we depend on God’s immutability whether we recognize that or not. When we walk outside and the sun is shining, we can only walk and the sun can only shine because God has not changed.

An amusing thought related to this is that of science and evolution. What would happen to the “laws” and practices of science if God changed? One can imagine a scientist doing an experiment a hundred times and getting the same result. The next time he did the experiment the result might be completely backwards. The next time the result would be even different. Scientists themselves depend heavily on the immutability of God even while some deny that He has anything to do with anything.

If God could change, what would happen to the doctrine of sin? Since God Himself is the standard, we would have the possibility of a different standard each day we woke up. Heaven and hell might be emptied if God changed and they might even have to switch places. But because God does not change, there is an eternity of joy for all who are in Christ. Because God does not change, there is never any hope on earth or in hell for those who do not have Christ. People who want another way of salvation simply want God to change. That cannot happen.

Immutability: Meaning

April 7, 2007

The teaching of Scripture on immutability sounds rather dull to many ears but is actually one of the foundations of a believer’s faith. After a study on immutability, Christianity shines forth with a glory that was not seen previously. This is a beautiful attribute of God that is denounced and denied by many in our day, but in so doing they are denying Christianity. This is a necessary teaching of the Christian faith if the Christian faith is going to remain the same in terms of its foundational doctrines. If the foundational doctrines change, then Christianity has changed from Christianity to something else.

The immutability of God is the attribute of God that signifies His perfection of essence and will. He is perfect in His essence and will and so He does not change and cannot change. For God to change would imply one of a few different things. He would either have to change Himself or another would have to change Him. For another to change Him would require a greater wisdom and a greater power. That simply cannot be as that would mean that God would be a god and not the true God. For God to change Himself would mean that He would either change for the better or for the worse. If for the better, then He is not perfect. If for the worse, then He is not perfect. Therefore, we can know that the perfect God will never change since He can get neither better nor worse.

More importantly, the Scriptures teach this:

1 Samuel 15:29 – “Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”

Malachi 3:6 – “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Numbers 23:19 – “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

Hebrews 6:18 – “so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.”

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

James 1:17 – “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

Deuteronomy 32:4 – “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.”

In the last text we see that God is called “The Rock.” Then it tells us that His work is perfect. Both of these show God to be immutable. God is the Rock that cannot be moved. He is the Rock that does not change. But the fact that He is perfect shows clearly that He cannot change. As we have seen from above, if He is perfect then He cannot change for the better or for the worse. Any change at all shows that He is less than perfect. As we can see from the texts of Scripture above, the fact that God is immutable means that He cannot lie. The Word of God cannot fail because the God who spoke them and speaks them cannot change and cannot fail. As a God that cannot lie, He is perfectly faithful to be who He is and to do all that He says.

Because God is immutable we don’t have to worry that the Gospel will change before the day or week is out. The Gospel is founded on His promises which means the Gospel is only as good as the words of God are. God’s words are only as good as He is immutable. But since He is immutable and cannot change, but instead exists in perfect beauty and love, the Gospel will never change. Christianity cannot be anything but the manifestation of the glory of God which is full of truth and grace (John 1:14). The truth of Christianity rests upon the truth of God and of the God who does not change. This is why the Gospel is the eternal Gospel and it will always be the one and only Gospel. God never changes His Word and His Son never changes. Therefore, we are not consumed.

Omnipotence: Meaning of Life

April 5, 2007

The link between God’s omnipotence in life and the meaning of life is a tight and vital link. At each and every moment we live there are choices going on around us by many human beings as well as ourselves. The activities of life that go on around us that have some determining power in what we do are too many for us to count in virtually every minute of life. For example, we might not know how the car that got to the signal light at the corner ahead of us got there in time to trigger traffic control switch at the light so that it could go but that we would have to stop. We might not know that it barely missed colliding with another car at the previous intersection. If it would have collided with the car at the previous intersection, it would not have triggered the light that caused us to stop. But of course if we had not of stopped at that light that would have meant we would have been right by the building where the explosion was. So who is in control of all the little things in life that prevent or cause other things to happen? Does God have all power to work all things according to His eternal plan or does everything happen according to the multiple contingencies of nature and human will? This gives meaning to life rather than chaos.

The naturalistic evolutionist, if he really thought about it, would be nothing but a bundle of nerves. Who in his or her right mind could actually believe that he has any control over anything at all if everything that happens is according to natural law or human contingency? While the evolutionists see nothing but the laws of uniformity in nature, the believers sees that uniformity is nothing but God in control and it is God that is immutable. While the evolutionists think that things that happen are by some form of accident or natural phenomenon, that makes life out to be absurd and meaningless. If we are nothing but the result of mindless laws that brought matter and energy together (never mind where those came from) in a way that mankind is nothing but an absurd accident in the universe operated upon by nature and thousands of contingent events headed toward utter extinction, then our lives on earth are absurd and meaningless. However, the believer knows that God created all things according to His eternal purpose and His purpose cannot fail because of God’s power to bring His purpose to pass. Everything that happens to the believer is intended for good and will work for God because God promises it and He has all power to make it happen. That is true meaning in life.

The world around us is either in utter chaos or under the hand and plan of an omnipotent God. All the storms that happen are not accidents and just things that happen, they are under the control of almighty God. All the events in the world happen according to God’s plan. They cannot happen apart from His permission because nothing can happen apart from His power. In the book of Job we see that the devil had to have permission to send the storm on Job’s children that killed them. The storm was directed by God. In the book of Jonah we see that the power of God was in full control of the storm that kept the boat Jonah was on from the shore. The Scripture tells us that God hurled the storm at the boat. When the sailors tried to row harder, the omnipotent hand send just the right amount of wind to frustrate the efforts of the sailors. God’s power means that all these things bring meaning to life.

Who is in charge of the events that happen to each person? God is because they could not happen apart from His power and all the “almost happenings” did not happen because He did not want them to. When people design evil plans against us, what has to happen for them to be carried out? God must will it for those things to happen or they would not happen. God is in charge of all things that happen to His people and He brings them to pass in order to bring true good to them. This power of God brings meaning to life in all that happens to us.

Who is in control of all the events in the world? God is in full control. He is working with power upon the leaders and governments of the world in order to bring His plan to fruition. The world thinks it is in control but it is not. God works all things as He pleases in order to make known His glory through the Church. While this is certainly not obvious to the world which hates the Church, God is using the weak to declare His glory to the watching spiritual realms. World events are for the sake of God’s glory through the Church and His power is thus seen. This shows how much His power has for true meaning in life.

God’s power is seen in the grace of salvation. The world is oblivious to this, but in reality the glory of God’s power shines in the salvation of sinners. It is an almighty and sovereign grace that takes sinners and transfers them from the power of the devil and the world and sets them in the kingdom of the Beloved Son. That shows that the power of God brings meaning to life and to eternity as well. What glory and what meaning shine in His power!

Omnipotence: Christ & the Gospel

April 3, 2007

In Hebrews 1 we see the claim of Scripture that Jesus Christ (as God) is in fact the One through whom the world was made. Then the text goes on to say in verse 3 that “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” It is the Lord Jesus Christ who upholds the world this moment by the word of His power. Colossians also tells the same story. “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (1:16-17). To see the universe is to see what Christ as the eternal Logos has done. Jesus Christ is not just some form of Savior, He is the omnipotent Savior.

The doctrine of omnipotence as it relates to Christ will be seen in Christ if the deity of Christ is true. But of course it is true and so we see miracles throughout the life and then the resurrection of Christ. We can see the power of Christ over death when we see Him raising the dead. In John 11 the text tells us that Jesus remained where He was when He heard that Lazarus was sick (v. 6). He did this so that to the glory of God: “But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (v. 4). Then later on in the chapter Jesus said to Martha in v. 40: “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” At least part of the glory that Jesus put on display was the power of God. When Jesus spoke the power of God was exerted and Lazarus came to life. The omnipotent power of God was displayed.

In Luke 8 we read where a man fell at the feet of Jesus and implored Him to come to his house because he had a daughter who was dying. When Jesus arrived at the house, the daughter was already dead. But Jesus took her by the hand and said, “Child, arise” (v. 54). The child got up immediately. When Jesus spoke and the omnipotence of God acted, whatever He desired happened. However it is that the soul of a person is collected from wherever it is and the chemical aspects of the body is moved as well; Jesus Christ had and has power over every aspect of life and death. The omnipotent power of God was glorified here as well.

In John 2 we have the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine. The people at the wedding party were running out of wine and so Jesus had the servants fill the pots with water. With power over the elements and whatever there is, He turned water into wine. When wine is made, it takes a while for the grapes to grow and then for the fermenting process to take place. But for the One who can call things into being, and not have a need for a process of creating, so there was no need of waiting here. It became wine without all the normal processes because of the power of the will of Christ. Nothing can resist His desires. On the other hand we see Christ feeding thousands with a few fish and a few loaves. He did not have to go through the process of breeding fish, catching them, cleaning them, and then cooking them. He did not have to go through the process of planting a seed and waiting for the grain to grow and then harvesting it. He did not have to wait to make dough and then cook it. He has the power to will anything to happen and it does.

Jesus the Christ is referred to as Lord over and over. On the last day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11). In Matthew 28:18 Jesus says this to His disciples: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” The word for authority is translated at various times as power. It means the power to act which is what authority is. All authority which is all power in heaven and earth was given to Christ. The human mind simply cannot even begin to grasp what that means. No matter what power there is in nature, Christ has power and authority over that. No matter what spiritual power there is, Christ has power and authority over that. He is in the most supreme sense the absolute and utter Lord of all. It is because of and on the basis of this power and authority that Jesus Christ commands His Church to go forth and make disciples of all nations.

The Gospel as power of God was set out in another BLOG. However, we can still look at one aspect. Colossians 1:13 teaches that “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” In this the power of God in rescuing sinners from the power of the evil one is seen. But the contrast with the power of the Son is seen. Believers are in the kingdom, that is, the reign and rule (power) or the Son. Once the believer is in that kingdom, s/he is absolutely safe. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” The rest of Romans 8 declares “no.”