The Attributes of God: The Immutability of God

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THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
A.W. Pink

THE IMMUTABILITY OF GOD

This 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 (Deut 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 everlastingly “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17).

First, God is immutable in His essence. His nature and being are infinite, and so, subject to no mutations. There never was a time when He was not; there never will come a time when He shall cease to be. God has neither evolved, grown, nor improved. All that He is today, He has ever been, and ever will be. “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6) is His own unqualified affirmation. He cannot change for the better, for He is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse. Altogether unaffected by anything outside Himself, improvement or deterioration is impossible. He is perpetually the same. He only can say, “I am that I am” (Ex. 3:14). He is altogether uninfluenced by the flight of time. There is no wrinkle upon the brow of eternity. Therefore His power can never diminish nor His glory ever fade.

Secondly, God is immutable in His attributes. Whatever the attributes of God were before the universe was called into existence, they are precisely the same now, and will remain so forever. Necessarily so; for they are the very perfections, the essential qualities of His being. Semper idem (always the same) is written across every one of them. His power is unabated, His wisdom undiminished, His holiness unsullied. The attributes of God can no more change than Deity can cease to be. His veracity is immutable, for His Word is “forever settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89). His love is eternal: “I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3) and “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). His mercy ceases not, for it is “everlasting” (Ps. 100:5).

Thirdly, God is immutable in His counsel. His will never varies. Perhaps some are ready to object that we ought to read the following: “And it repented the Lord that He had made man” (Gen. 6:6). Our first reply is, Then do the Scriptures contradict themselves? No, that cannot be. Numbers 23:19 is plain enough: “God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent.” So also in 1 Samuel 15:19, “The strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for He is not a man, that He should repent.” The explanation is very simple. When speaking of Himself. God frequently accommodates His language to our limited capacities. He describes Himself as clothed with bodily members, as eyes, ears, hands, etc. He speaks of Himself as “waking” (Ps. 78:65), as “rising early” (Jer. 7:13); yet He neither slumbers nor sleeps. When He institutes a change in His dealings with men, He describes His course of conduct as “repenting.”

Yes, God is immutable in His counsel. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). It must be so, for “He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job 23:13). Change and decay in all around we see, may He who changeth not abide with thee. God’s purpose never alters. One of two things causes a man to change his mind and reverse his plans: want of foresight to anticipate everything, or lack of power to execute them. But as God is both omniscient and omnipotent there is never any need for Him to revise His decrees. No. “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Ps. 33:11). Therefore do we read of “the immutability of His counsel” (Heb. 6:17).

Herein we may perceive the infinite distance which separates the highest creature from the Creator. Creaturehood and mutability are correlative terms. If the creature was not mutable by nature, it would not be a creature; it would be God. By nature we tend to nothing, as we came from nothing. Nothing stays our annihilation but the will and sustaining power of God. None can sustain himself a single moment. We are entirely dependent on the Creator for every breath we draw. We gladly own with the Psalmist Thou “holdest our soul in life” (Ps. 66:9). The realization of this ought to make us lie down under a sense of our own nothingness in the presence of Him “in Whom we live and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

As fallen creatures we are not only mutable, but everything in us is opposed to God. As such we are “wandering stars” (Jude 13), out of our proper orbit. The wicked are “like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest” (Isa. 57:20). Fallen man is inconstant. The words of Jacob concerning Reuben apply with full force to all of Adam’s descendants: “unstable as water” (Gen. 49:4). Thus it is not only a mark of piety, but also the part of wisdom to heed that injunction, “cease ye from man” (Isa. 2:22). No human being is to be depended on. “Put not your trust in princes, in the son of man, in whom is no help” (Ps. 146:3). If I disobey God, then I deserve to be deceived and disappointed by my fellows. People who like you today, may hate you tomorrow. The multitude who cried “Hosanna to the Son of David,” speedily changed to “Away with Him, Crucify Him.”

Herein is solid comfort. Human nature cannot be relied upon; but God can! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not. If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But, all praise to His glorious name, He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed, His will stable, His word is sure. Here then is a rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty torrent is sweeping away everything around us. The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee” (Isa. 54:10).

Herein is encouragement to prayer: “What comfort would it be to pray to a god that, like the chameleon, changed color every moment? Who would put up a petition to an earthly prince that was so mutable as to grant a petition one day, and deny it another?” (S. Charnock, 1670). Should someone ask, But what is the use of praying to One whose will is already fixed? We answer, Because He so requires it. What blessings has God promised without our seeking them? “If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us” (1 John 5:14), and He has willed everything that is for His child’s good. To ask for anything contrary to His will is not prayer, but rank rebellion.

Herein 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 existed not, 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. No, He has declared, “Therefore will I also deal in fury: Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in Mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them” (Ezek. 8:18). God will not deny Himself to gratify their lusts. God is holy, unchangingly so. Therefore God hates sin, eternally hates it. Hence the eternality of the punishment of all who die in their sins.

The Divine immutability, like the cloud which interposed between the Israelites and the Egyptian army, has a dark as well as a light side. It insures the execution of His threatenings, as well as the performance of His promises; and destroys the hope which the guilty fondly cherish, that He will be all lenity to His frail and erring creatures, and that they will be much more lightly dealt with than the declarations of His own Word would lead us to expect. We oppose to these deceitful and presumptuous speculations the solemn truth, that God is unchanging in veracity and purpose, in faithfulness and justice. (J. Dick, 1850).

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There are several very excellent treatments of this subject and ones in which we distinctly adhere to, i.e., Calvin, Hodge, BB Warfield and more but we have chosen A.W. Pink’s “Attributes of God” for its simplistic easy-to-understand writing for the novice believer who happens upon our blog. _TheologyGirl

A Heart for Freedom


“A Heart for Freedom”
 “Heavenly Notes”
TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:32

Freedom  — The Election is taking up most of my time and attention and even my theological thoughts are leaning to those things that represent our God-given freedoms.  Here is another article I wrote back in 2005 on “freedom” that is àpropos for today as we celebrate the July 4th Independence Day. As God’s Word teaches, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

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Freedom –I have thought about this subject over the last week especially in light of the events in the world of elections, turmoil, wars, terrorism and natural disasters.   It is a word that conjures up many thoughts, emotions, doctrine and ideals.  It is something that has meaning in theological, spiritual, political, historical, geographical, real, emotional and other applications.  It is a word that brings faith, joy, hope, strength, courage and  perseverance to all people.  We have seen it applied and in action in our own lives, in family life, in spiritual life, and in our own countries in church, civil and government life.  It’s a big word with big meaning.  It is a word that strikes deep into the heart of every man and women because God has placed the desire for freedom in the heart and mind of every living creature.  We live freedom every day in every way.  Whether it is what we eat or drink, where we go, what we see and do, what we read and learn, how we love and share, God has implanted this desire within us.  It is a good and generous gift from God.

As we watched the elections in Iraq we have seen people who want to be free and have the liberty to vote for those that will have the rule over them.  They want the right to exercise that gift that is given by God, to choose their own elected officials.  In our governments and churches, our Sovereign God has likewise given us the liberty to choose our leaders and to vote for those that will serve Him in executing righteous judgment and to serve us and our neighbors.  It is a God-ordained gift of freedom to be able to  cast our ballot and vote.  In so doing, we are called to good judgment and stewardship by electing those good and just men to carry out God’s mandate to the nations to rule righteously under Him and for the good of the people.

Freedom in nations comes at a cost and the cost is not free.  It comes through prayer, battles, war, loss of life, difficulties and sometimes much sorrow as seen in many of the books of our Bible and especially the Old Testament.  It is the same today as it was then — “wars and rumors of wars” and battles over land and sovereignty.  We have seen it up close and personal, death and destruction and many times in the loss of a loved one in our own family.  We are not novices to understand freedom and what it means.  It is daily on our television sets, in our news, in our discussions.  A reminder of late is the face of the people of Iraq and their deliverance from a corrupt and evil government.  They are fighting for their lives day and night and have shown courage these last days in going out to vote on election day despite the evil terrorists and their evil intent to kill or maim those that exercise their right of freedom to vote.  The joy on the faces of the Iraq people could only bring that deep emotional understanding of experienced freedom of heart and mind to the viewer and one could not help but cry at the sight of it.  We saw in it their hope for tomorrow for a people long oppressed by evil and we were reminded again of God’s gifts of hope, peace and deliverance.

As I looked upon these things, I could not help but reflect on God’s Word and its many stories of freedom and deliverance of men and women but especially in its application to freedom/liberty of the soul.  Christ has said,

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:32

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
John 8:36

This is true freedom indeed!  This is what understanding the wholeness of freedom is — a total true freedom is freedom in Christ.  It is an ultimate freedom, not as the world gives, not as man or courts or governments dictate but it is the “royal” freedom — the “freedom of freedom” that men truly need.  Our knowledge, desire and understanding of freedoms in the world are just a picture of what true freedom is.  They help us to understand, feel and to desire freedom but that freedom is and never will be comparable to the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, our Lord.  They are schoolmasters to bring us to Christ.  Thus, as we see countries set at liberty and freed from tyranny and bondage, we, as believers are reminded that true freedom is from Christ alone.  He alone delivers from bondage. It should encourage us as His children to “go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature” so that their hearts, minds and souls can truly be set free.  The world and all it offers can only give a “temporary” freedom, a “balm” for this life, but God gives an everlasting freedom that comes to all who believe in Him.  It is His ultimate gift to His people.  Believe it, exercise it and be reminded of from whence it comes.  Pray for the people of the world that they may know this Christ and truly be “free indeed” not only for today and tomorrow but for eternity.

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:6-21

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Hope for You and Your Family

Theology Girl-ReformedWomen Studies
Study Notes: “There is Hope”
Title: “Hope and Help For Your Family”
Author:
“ReformedWomen-Theology Girl”

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“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:1-5

“There is hope, real hope for you and your family. The problems that you have can be solved. There is hope for your family, for your life, and for your children, because God is the foundation of that hope.”1

Hope: “To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future.”2

Hope for You and Your Family

As we continue in our study in Chapter 2, we are looking at the problems, trials and afflictions of living in a sinful world. We are looking at how society deals with them, blameshifts the responsibility for them and how we as Christians work through and understand them. We see the error of the world’s answers and we see the truth of God’s answers. We see a world in despair and we see the hope that Christ has given us in how we, as Christians, solve our problems. As we look at this chapter, we come to it with the knowledge of what we have learned in Chapter 1 about sin. This will help in our analysis of this chapter and our application of it. [Note: The summary below is an excerpt from the original study and does not include the entire lesson and commentary (you will have to wait for the book for it in its entirety!)]

First several questions from our “Questions for Discussion and Reflection”

  • Q.10. What is hope?
    a. For life?
    b. For solving problems?
    c. For the future?
  • Q. 11. When we solve our problems using God’s Word, using His terminology and applications, they can be solved. We have God’s promises and assurance that this is so. This means a change in our thinking from “worldly” thinking to “Christ-centered” thinking.
    a. What are some of the fruits of the spirit that come into view here to help us?
    b. How does this change our lives and give us hope?

In summary, we have learned:

1. That the world and often the “Christian” community peddles a viewpoint that blames most of our troubles and failures on “mental illness” or “sickness.”

2. That God in His great wisdom and providence has created “truly” mentally ill, mentally incapacitated, retarded or brain-damaged, via birth, accident or otherwise, people for His purposes, His glory and for our good.

3. That “sin” is the root and base cause of the “problems” of humanity.

4. That persisting in sinful behavior will result in physical ailments, discouragement, unrest, and no hope.

5. That God’s Word has the answer for every problem and every sin. This gives humanity hope. The Bible shows us how to live a godly life, to forsake sin, the results of sin, and to pursue righteousness in Christ Jesus our Lord.

6. That our “only hope in life and death” is Christ. That all sin, no matter how awful, can be forsaken and cleansed by Christ. That any sinful lifestyle can be changed to a life that is pleasing to God. This gives humanity hope and instead of an “excuse for sin,” an answer to how to deal with sin and how to change.

7. That God’s Word is the guidebook for Christians. That sins within people and the family can only be solved by God’s Word, prayer, confession, and an 180-degree turn from sin to righteousness.

8. That Christians must “fight the good fight of faith” by putting on the “whole armour of God” daily by exercising the fruits of the Spirit to live a “godly Christian life” and forsake the world, its methodology, its psychobabble, and its lies from the heart of the evil one. We are to “put off” unrighteousness and “put on” righteousness and “make no provision for the flesh.”

9. That we as Christians have a “sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7), one that is sober-minded, diligent, self-controlled, and that “sound mind” has been given to us as a gift from Christ.

10. That God has promised in 1 Corinthians 10:13 and many other Scriptures that he will provide everything for life, godliness and help when trials, discouragements, affliction, pain, and suffering come our way.

11. That our God has provided everything we need via His Spirit, His Word, prayer and His provisions for life now and forever. He has given us a “lively living hope” that does not pass away; that we have hope for today and hope for tomorrow. That “all things work together for our good” and that the “work He has begun in us will be completed.” That this “hope is built on nothing less that Jesus and His righteousness.”

12. That Christian families must work together prayerfully and biblically to solve problems of this life using God’s Word, the Bible, for their answers, help and hope.

This is a profound and difficult area for Christians to get a good grip on. The world and its system permeates everything with its erroneous doctrines. They are such a part of our society that we, as believers, as ministers, and as churches, take on the “reflection” of the world. This must not be so. We are a separated people, set apart for God’s glory and to be a light of hope in a dark world. We must be bold and forthright in calling “sin” sin, and that work first begins in us, in our homes, in our family life. That is a full-time job. There is not time for us to pick the speck out of other people’s lives, we must begin in our own. We do that by understanding what God’s Word says about these things and then applying that biblical terminology, problem-solving solutions and answers to our own lives. This gives hope to our own lives and families and then we can be that “reflection” of Christ to others. May God help us to do this and by His indwelling Holy Spirit we can.3/

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1/ Dr. Jay Adams, Christian Living in the Home, p.19
2/ Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
3/ ReformedWomen-Theology Girl Book-Bible Study: “Christian Living in the Home, Summary and Commentary on A Christ Centered Home” (Oct. 2001)