The Immutability of God

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To possess the quality of immutability, is to be totally unchanging. Thus, to say that God is immutable is to say that He is unchanging. In fact this is a self-explanatory proposition. A perfect being must be unchanging because to change perfection is to make it less perfect. But here are two men that can say it with great clarity.

The first is from an article called “The Importance of God’s Immutability” by R.C. Sproul Jr.

“It is likely the most overlooked, under-appreciated, unknown attribute of the living God. Of course we are in grave danger indeed if we seek to pit against one another or to rank in relative importance the attributes of God. The doctrine of His simplicity reminds us that God is one, that He is not composed of parts. The attributes of God are not like that old spiritual, Dry Bones, wherein we affirm that the wrath bone’s connected to the justice bone, the justice bone’s connected to the omniscience bone. Neither does God find balance between competing qualities, as if His wrath were muted by His grace, or His love tempered by His holiness. These are all one, the same thing. In the end all of what He is He is because He is God.

Which, in the end, is why His immutability is so vitally important. This attribute is that which enables us to depend on God to be God. It is why we can be certain that every excellency, every perfection, indeed every promise of God is utterly inviolable. He shall not be moved. Jonathan Edwards wisely pointed out that this is one of the reasons the heathen hate him so much. They have other potent enemies. But those enemies can grow weak. They have other angry enemies, but they can be calmed. They have other knowing enemies, but they can be fooled. The God of heaven and earth, on the other hand, will never cease to be all-powerful. His wrath will never turn from sin. And His eyes will never grow dim.

This same attribute, however, redounds to the good of those who love Him. Last night, as with many nights, I gathered my two littlest boys, Reilly and Donovan, before bed. I read to them a rather silly story about a robot and a goat in search of a missing sock. They snuggled up to me as we read, and later as we said our bedtime prayers. Finally, I sang to them their lullabies, one of which comes, in our evening liturgy, complete with shaking, squeezing and giggling. It is a precious time for all three of us, and they go to bed at peace having heard me pray these words, “Lord help these boys to know that daddy loves them, mommy loves them, mommy and daddy love each other, and you love them.”

It’s all true. But sometimes I lose my temper. Sometimes I speak to these precious boys in anger. Sometimes I am merely distracted. The certainty I want to give them is radically muted by my own unpredictability. Not so with our heavenly Father. His immutability isn’t a mere battlefield wherein we tussle with process theology. It isn’t a mere bulwark against the folly of open theism. It isn’t even a mere facet of His character to be put under a microscope to be examined and expounded upon. It is instead a promise, a covenant promise. It is my certainty when I lie down to sleep that He will love me in the morning even as He loves me through the night. It is how I know that nothing can take me from His hand. It is the very reason we not only believe His promises, but believe He is the promise. The grass withers. The flower fades. But the Word of our God endures forever.”

The second is from C. H. Spurgeon from his sermon “The Immutability of God” delivered January 7th 1855. Here Spurgeon is working through the practical implications of this attribute of God.

“Yet again, God is unchanging in His promises. Ah! We love to speak about the sweet promises of God; but if we could ever suppose that one of them could be changed, we would not talk anything more about them. If I thought that the notes of the bank of England could not be cashed next week, I should decline to take them; and if I thought that God’s promises would never be fulfilled- if I thought that God would see it right to alter some word in His promises- farewell Scriptures! I want immutable things; and I find that I have immutable promises when I turn to the Bible: for, “by two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie,: He hath signed, confirmed, and sealed every promise of His. The gospel is not “yea and nay,” it is not promising today, and denying tomorrow; but this morning when you turned to the Bible the promise was not sweet. Do you know why? Do you think the promise had changed? Ah, no! You changed; that is where the matter lies. You had been eating some of the grapes of Sodom, and your mouth was thereby put out of taste, and you could not detect the sweetness. But there was the same honey there, depend upon it, the same preciousness. “Oh!” says one child of God, “I had built my house firmly once upon some stable promises; there came a wind, and I said, O Lord, I am cast down and I shall be lost.” Oh! the promises were not cast down; the foundations were not removed; it was your little “wood, hay, stubble” hut, that you had been building. It was that which fell down. You have been shaken on the rock, not the rock under you. But let me tell you what is the best way of living in the world. I have heard that a gentleman said to a Negro, “I can’t think how it is you are always so happy in the Lord and I am often downcast.” “Why Massa,” said he, “I throw myself flat down on the promise- there I lie; you stand on the promise- you have a little to do with it, and down you go when the wind comes, and then you cry, ‘Oh! I am down;’ whereas I go flat on the promise at once, and that is why I fear no fall.” Then let us always say, “Lord there is the promise; it is thy business to fulfill it.” Down I go on the promise flat! no standing up for me. That is where you should go- prostrate on the promise; and remember, every promise is a rock, an unchanging thing. Therefore, at His feet cast yourself, and rest there forever.”

Sproul Jr., R. C. “The Importance of God’s Immutability”. Ligonier Ministries. 2013. Web. 29 July. 2013. http://www.ligonier.org/

Spurgeon, Charles H. “The Immutability of God”. The Spurgeon Archive. 2001. Web. 29 July. 2013. http://www.spurgeon.org/mainpage.htm

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